Monday, February 20, 2012

A belated Valentine story

This is about Donna Mae (my husband's sister) and Dale Reishus, a happily married couple for nearly 60 years.

They came from the same small town in Minnesota, fell in love while still in high school and became engaged when Dale joined the Navy during WWII.  While serving on a ship (coincidentally named USS Dale) Dale kept a diary of his experiences and poured into this journal his feelings for Donna Mae, the girlfriend back home he had nicknamed 'Smiley'.

When Dale left the ship at the end of the war to dash home to his 'Smiley', he forgot his diary.  It was hidden away in a spot so remote that it wasn't found again until the ship was decommissioned in the early 2000's.  One of the crew working on the ship found the diary, and through various clues in the book was able to locate Donna Mae.  Dale had died several years earlier so imagine, if you can, the emotions Donna Mae experienced when she received for the first time and read this very personal account of the love Dale  held for her throughout a very long and frightening war.

Donna Mae has donated the diary to the Library of Congress and it is there for anyone to read--and it is a love story worth reading.  As I read a copy of it the entry that most struck me was how  eagerly Dale awaited mail from the US.  Letters came months apart but when they arrived it was a lifeline in the unbelievably grim backdrop of the war in the South Pacific.

The inside cover has a picture of 'Smiley' and you can see how she got the nickname.

Newspapers have done stories about the diary and it's long journey plus the governor's wife had Donna Mae to lunch one day.

'Smiley' and her sailor at their 50th wedding celebration.  Altogether they had three children and 6 grandchildren and Donna Mae now lives in a suburb of Minneapolis.

I wanted to blog this on Valentine's Day but couldn't get the Internet to behave for me.  But the story is timeless and inspirational.


  1. Slight error. The USS Dale (DD-353) was decommissioned in 1945. It was being cut up for scrap metal in 1947 when the diary was found.


  3. Very sweet story, there should be more love in the world like this.

  4. Toni, Just catching up on all your entries. What a beautiful love story, thank you for sharing.