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Mich. woman claims long-lost letter

Says ’45 letter for her Aunt Seddie

By Stewart Bishop
Globe Correspondent / April 1, 2011

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A letter that was missing for 66 years and that mysteriously turned up at the Post Office in Gloucester last week is being claimed by a Michigan woman who said the post was intended for her aunt.

Sylvia De Boever, 71, of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., said that when she saw the news of the letter, she immediately recognized the name on the envelope, “S.E. Lawrence,’’ to be that of her deceased aunt, Sarah E. Lawrence, who was known as Seddie. The letter, originally mailed from Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1945, was addressed to Lawrence, who then lived with her husband at their home on Leonard Street in Gloucester.

De Boever, originally of Gloucester, said she first saw the story on the website of the Gloucester Daily Times, which she checks every morning to keep tabs on her hometown.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,’’ De Boever said. “I was totally freaked out.’’

The letter, which bore four one-cent stamps with the image of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on them, was known as a First Day Cover, a special envelope used by stamp collectors to commemorate the time and place where a new stamp is issued. De Boever said her aunt, who died in August 2001, was an avid stamp collector.

Postal officials have said they are at a loss to explain why the letter turned up in the mail after 66 years.

Dennis Tarmey, a spokesman for the Greater Boston Postal District, said Monday that the letter may have become lost in some postal equipment, but added that that was just a theory.

De Boever’s husband, Thomas, said he has contacted postal officials and expects to take possession of the letter soon, as Lawrence’s next of kin.

He said he and his wife are stamp collectors, as well, and he hopes to conduct his own research into where the letter has been all these years.

“The fact that it took 66 years — it’s big news,’’ he said.

Stewart Bishop can be reached at sbishop@globe.com.