A 102-year-old Lakewood woman who has written more than 8,000 letters to members of the military since World War II is being lauded as a “star” in the city’s latest “Thank a Servicemember” campaign, in which postcards are sent to people serving overseas during the holidays.

Alleen Cooper, a great-grandmother of five, said she initially asked the city for 75 of the postcards, which contain the message, “Though distant, you’re still close to our hearts … from Lakewood, California,” and then asked for more when she had finished personalizing those.

She said that it wasn’t until weeks later that she realized she had written 102 letters on the postcards — the same number as her age. She said she subsequently went ahead and penned more than 50 others, in addition to her regular letter-writing campaign to servicemembers.

Cooper noted that she writes “really small” so she can fit a lot onto each of the city-designed postcards.

“It’s like a small letter,” she said, noting that she wrote 56 of them a year ago.

City spokesman Bill Grady called Cooper “our star letter writer,” who had written more of the postcards than anyone else in the city. In all, the city received just under 1,050 cards and letters for the campaign’s seventh year, he said.

Cooper said she began writing to active-duty servicemembers in World War II and has penned 8,365 letters over the years. She said she keeps detailed records of her correspondence, which she works on from her kitchen table in the home where she has lived since the 1950s.

“I just write like they’re sitting here by me,” she told City News Service on Christmas Eve. “I just feel like I know them … I just tell them I needed to drop by and say hello to them … You can’t believe what a wonderful feeling you get.”

Her letters — in which she quickly lets the recipient know her age — “always mention the weather,” what life is like in Lakewood and include comics and puzzles she clips every day from the newspaper. She said she encourages the letters’ recipients to pass them along to their fellow military members to enjoy.

Cooper, whose son served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, said she doesn’t write “to get a letter” back but hopes she can help bring a piece of home to military members who are far away from their families and may be lonely.

“If I get a letter (back), it’s wonderful,” she said, noting that among those with whom she regularly corresponds is a now-retired Marine in Massachusetts. They have been exchanging letters for at least 13 years since he served in Iraq and met up with once for a get-together.

“It’s just unbelievable … It’s just a privilege getting to do this,” she said of her letter-writing hobby.

When asked if she plans to continue writing next year, Cooper said she does indeed and is already planning to call the city next September to get more postcards.

“I don’t know (how many) because I’m older,” she said with a laugh.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *