101-year-old surprised with dozens of birthday letters from strangers | KUOW News and Information

101-year-old surprised with dozens of birthday letters from strangers

Jan 11, 2018

Communicating these days is all about texts, emails, tweets, and posts. But do you remember letters? 

Sammamish resident Eileen Wilkinson does. She loves writing and receiving letters.

Yesterday was Wilkinson's birthday. She turned one hundred and one years old.

For her birthday, Wilkinson's family surprised her with a hundred and one letters written by people from all over the world.

Her grandkids used modern forms of communication to make it happen. They asked people on Facebook to send Wilkinson birthday notes. And dozens poured in.  

Wilkinson is surprised. “It puzzles me, it really does. It puzzles me,” Wilkinson says. 

“You just wonder, ‘Why? Why would people be interested in an old lady? That’s a question because most people aren’t. They sort of ignore you,” she says. 

Eileen Wilkinson's family surprised her with a hundred and one letters written by people from all over the world
Credit KUOW Photos / Casey Martin /

Eileen fell in love with letter writing in the 30s, when she started writing to the man who would later become her husband.

“He was just a little sailor in San Diego. And he thought he’d found the girl he was going to marry so he started writing letters immediately. He wrote all of these beautiful letters. And I thought, ‘he’s unbelievable.’ And then we went out and he was the same person in the letters he wrote. And I knew him through his letters,” she says.

Eileen urges people to write more letters because she believes there's something special that you just don't get with online messages.

“I have letters from my grandmother, from my aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and I still have those letters. And they’re all put into a little box so the family can re-read them. Because sometimes there’s history. So that’s why I think letters are very important,” she says.

Wilkinson thinks it'll take her about a year to respond to all those letters.

Maybe by her next birthday, when she turns one hundred and two years old.

Cards and letters are still coming in from around the world to wish Eileen a happy 101st
Credit KUOW Photos / Casey Martin