“We kind of let it go, our entire family, and, then, nine days later, my mother gets the registered letter from Pittsburgh,” the son said. “It was crazy.”
Mr. Gonsalves had sent his letter from Bad Orb, Germany, a town near a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag IX B, that had been liberated by American forces months earlier.
In the letter, Mr. Gonsalves asks his mother not to send him any more packages, telling her he doesn’t think he will be there much longer. He laments the “lousy weather” and asks about his friends Jim and Bill. He says he hopes to be home in January or February of 1946.
He signed the letter, “Love + XXXXX, Your Son, Johnny. P.S. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.”
After the war, Mr. Gonsalves earned an engineering degree and worked for years for GTE Corporation.
He used his engineering skills to run copper pipes from the family’s sprawling Victorian to a hot-water tank on the roof of the garage so there would be enough water for everyone to shower, his son said. He also devised an LED panel that would show which lights in the house had been left on.
“His mind was always going,” the son said. “He was always thinking of things.”
Ms. Gonsalves said that she missed her husband and that the letter reflected how much he had loved his family and worried about them, even when he was serving overseas.
“It was just so nice that he cared so much about all of them, because that’s the way he was,” she said. “I could’ve sworn I felt his presence here while I was reading the letter, honestly and truly, which is strange, but that’s how I felt.”