Wartime letters sparked relationship - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:37 am
Wartime letters sparked relationship

His U.S. Navy ship was churning through the sea off the coast of Japan when her first letter arrived.

Merrill Anderson was a radar operator on the USS Okanogan during the Korean War in 1952, and he was homesick for Nebraska.

So the letter from Violet Specht, a Nebraska girl, was just what he needed.

Violet was 18, and a recent high school graduate. She was working at a drugstore in her hometown of Gering, Neb., and knew Merrill’s sister.

His sister knew he would love to hear news from home, so she asked Violet if she wanted to write him.

Merrill had attended school in Gering for a few years, before moving to Grand Island with his family after seventh grade, but had never met Violet.

But they knew many of the same people, so her letters filled him in about life in Gering.

They exchanged letters for nine months, sharing about their lives and families.

Their relationship grew through the letters, and Merrill knew he wanted to meet Violet.

He got his chance when home on leave in 1953. He walked into the Gering drugstore where she worked, and ordered something to drink at the soda fountain.

He noticed the same pretty smile he’d seen in the photos she sent.

Merrill asked her out on a date, and they saw each other every day for a week and met each other’s families during his leave.

Violet drove with Merrill and his parents to the depot in Cheyenne, Wyo., so he could catch a train back to his ship at port in Long Beach, Calif.

As he and Violet stood outside the depot, the train was about to pull away.

Before he hopped on, he proposed.

He hadn’t even planned to ask her at that moment, but suddenly knew he had to before heading back to the Navy.

She was surprised, but told him yes.

They missed each other, but kept writing letters. While Merrill was on another leave, they married on Nov. 29, 1953, in Quartzsite, Ariz.

He was stationed in Long Beach, so they lived there until he was discharged in 1955 and he took a job with Union Pacific Railroad where he had worked in high school.

They moved around the country for Merrill’s job, living in Los Angeles, Portland and other cities before moving to Omaha in 1973. Violet worked for a local car dealership and Merrill continued with U.P., retiring in 1988.

They had three children, and now have nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The couple marked their 60th wedding anniversary Friday and are celebrating this weekend.

“It’s been a blessing,” Violet said.

One father's tale of overcoming infertility
Annie, My 12-year-old grandson insists on sleeping with Grammie
Archives: So many wonderful old Omaha photos
Omaha woman, 30, battling breast cancer for third time
For World Book Night, some Omahans prepare to hand out free reads
Earth Day: A change in habits can help the planet
‘Wonder Bread Years’: Tickets on sale now for salute to baby boomer generation
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium going greener
Annie Mailbox: My daughter will quit smoking if I lose weight
Win a Mommy Makeover!
Why two hotshots ditched six-figure salaries for a life of less
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Annie, when that girl's hitting the bottle, look out
Blair High senior shows his love of pi by memorizing 1,381 digits
Jon Stewart might be real king of late night
'Tis soon Talk Like Shakespeare Day; hence be mirthful!
Can't find your pet? Social media is there to help
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
From fashion to baskets, a guide to the latest Easter trends
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
This Friday, celebrate Arbor Day where it all began
Annie, my boyfriend of 3 years won't invite me to his mobile home
Kooser: 'American Life in Poetry' (April 20)
Swoosie’s voice a joy in memoir of stage, family
< >
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
Jump to a blog:
< >
We Love Weddings blog
W.E. Love Weddings is about everything Omaha and everything weddings by the editors of Wedding Essentials Magazine.
Weddings and engagements
Share your exciting news with your community by placing an announcement today.
Inspired Home Omaha magazine
Sign up today to get the latest edition of Omaha's best magazine for local living, home entertainment, fashion and travel!
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »