It was December 1992, and Virginia Tuthill sat by the bedside of her husband of 57 years, Stedman Tuthill ’33 (’34). Stedman was in the final stages of Parkinson’s disease, and Virginia struggled to write what she knew would be his last Christmas letter to his law school friend Leslie Fisher ’34.
Stedman and Les had exchanged Christmas letters almost every year since graduating from Harvard Law School in the 1930s. But after graduating, they never saw each other again.
After law school, both returned to their hometowns. Stedman went to Camden, N.Y., where he met Virginia. Les returned to Iron River, Mich., and married Kathryn Sanders in 1938. During the war, they both served as lieutenants in the U.S. Navy, Stedman in the Atlantic and Les in the Pacific. Each practiced law in his own small town, and after retiring, both wintered in Florida on opposite coasts. In 1991, after 53 years of marriage, Les lost Kathryn to Parkinson’s disease. And on January 25, 1993, Stedman died of Parkinson’s.
When Stedman died, Les sent his condolences, and in February, he and his sisters drove to meet Virginia for the first time. They talked of how Les and his sisters had traveled to Normandy after Les’ wife had died, to help him get over being alone. Then they asked Virginia to join them on a fall trip to Provence. When Virginia agreed to go, they rented a villa and van and spent two weeks in southern France. She and Les followed that trip with a one-week Caribbean cruise “to get better acquainted one-on-one.” In the spring, they flew to Paris with Les’ sisters, and they all celebrated Les’ 90th birthday on the Seine.
After Paris, Virginia never went home again. She sold her condominium, and at 84 and 90, she and Les moved in together. When people asked how long they had been married, Les would answer: “Ginny was married 57 years and I was married 53, so altogether we have been married 110 years–but not together.”
They shared eight happy years. Les died on July 27, 2002, at the age of 97. Now, at 91, Virginia says she is living on memories. She knows that Stedman would have been delighted that she and Les found each other.