Friend­ship writ­ten in ink


Anne Duke Judd and June Rogers Kenyon hold up an apron with a photo of the women from 1956 when they be­came pen pals, show­ing the Maple Leaf of Canada and the Sil­ver Fern of New Zealand. The women re­cently met face to face for just the 10th time at the West Kelowna home of Kenyon’s son, Dean, and his wife, Jenny, to cel­e­brate 61 years of let­ter writ­ing and mark their 75th birth­days.

Two women who forged a friend­ship through years of let­ter writ­ing re­cently met face-to-face in West Kelowna.

Pen pals June Rogers Kenyon trav­elled from New Zealand and Anne Duke Judd trav­elled from Port El­gin, Ont., to meet at Kenyon’s son Dean’s West Kelowna home to cel­e­brate 61 years of pen friend­ship and to mark their 75th birth­days.

It was a trip down mem­ory lane for the women, re­mem­ber­ing how young they were in the 1950s when they be­came pen pals, the joy of writ­ing and re­ceiv­ing real mail, hand­writ­ten with a pen and pa­per.

In the days be­fore per­sonal com­put­ers, emails and tex­ting, writ­ing to a pen pal was a pop­u­lar hobby.

It all be­gan when Kenyon was 14 and be­came in­ter­ested in writ­ing to pen pals. She found Judd’s name ask­ing for a New Zealand pen friend in the pen-pal col­umn of a weekly news­pa­per.

“I still have vivid mem­o­ries of Anne’s first let­ter com­ing all the way from On­tario ar­riv­ing in the farm mail­box at my par­ents’ dairy farm,” said Kenyon, who grew up near a small coun­try town in North­land.

Kenyon mar­ried in 1962 and said she would ea­gerly look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing Judd’s lovely hand­writ­ten let­ters as she went about her daily chores as a young house­wife and mother on her sheep-and-beef farm.

“It was just won­der­ful to sit down with a cup of tea to rel­ish Anne’s let­ters.” said Kenyon.

The women ex­changed the news from their part of the world, pho­to­graphs of their fam­i­lies and Christ­mas and birth­day gifts.

Both of the women’s homes have a flavour of her pen pal’s coun­try, with many a sou­venir tea towel proudly on dis­play in their re­spec­tive kitchens.

Through the hand-writ­ten let­ters the women shared the joys of their lives such as mar­riages and the births of their chil­dren and the sor­rows such as the pass­ing of their par­ents.

This is the 10th time the women have met face-to-face as they have vis­ited each other’s home­lands over the years bring­ing home fond mem­o­ries and sou­venirs.,

The pen pals first met in 1975 when Kenyon and her hus­band, Ron, came for a hol­i­day in North Amer­ica and vis­ited Judd and her fam­ily in Port El­gin.

Kenyon’s son, Dean, be­came a Cana­dian with Judd’s help. She took him into her home to help him get started when he ar­rived in Port El­gin, Ont., 31 years ago.

Dean mar­ried and he and his wife, Jenny, pro­duced three daugh­ters and the fam­ily moved to West Kelowna in 1998.

“Af­ter all th­ese years of keep­ing in touch, I feel Anne has been like an over­seas sis­ter to me,” said Kenyon.

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

Anne Duke Judd and June Rogers Kenyon cut into a choco­late cake baked by Kenyon’s grand­daugh­ter to cel­e­brate their 61 years of pen friend­ship.

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