Jim Coates, Proctor George Coates and Harold Proctor Coates

Jim Coates, Proctor George Coates and Harold Proctor Coates

Looking Back: World War II Letters Project

West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 6, 2017

 Bob Earl

Bob Earl

 Bob Green

Bob Green

SYLVAN LAKE — According to the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, letters to service people were among the many patriotic acts that people engaged in during World War II to support war efforts.

In 1942, Glenn Husted, principal of the former Daniel Whitfield School in Sylvan Lake, began writing to his former students who were serving in World War II around the world. As the servicemen and women wrote back to him, he shared their stories.

In total, 45 men and women responded to him, detailing their involvement in the war. The news was then added to the next letter from Husted and continued in a round-robin fashion.

He saved each letter.

In May 2012, Sharie Husted VanGilder, Husted’s daughter, sent the 70 original letters to Helen Jane Peters, a Sylvan Lake historian, who then read them. Peters has been living in Glenn Husted’s former home for the past 46 years. This started the World War II Letters Project.

When VanGilder sent the letters to Peters, VanGilder hoped the original letters could be returned to the veterans or their families, Peters said. Through social media and word of mouth, Peters, with the help of Randy Rogers, a Whitfield School alumnus, returned all but eight of the original letters to the families.

To honor local veterans, copies of letters from Sylvan Lake men and women who served during World War II will be displayed at the Orchard Lake Museum 1-4 p.m. Nov. 12. There is no charge to attend this event.

There are still eight veterans, or their families, who have not been found to return the letters to: Alfred M. Carlson, Charles Dryer, Vernon Harcourt, Herbert Dean Jorgensen, Harold Lewis, Eva Sanford, Lee Valentine and Pat Wood. Anyone who has information about the remaining eight veterans is asked to contact Helen Jane Peters at veteransletters@gmail.com.

— Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society