WNY helps find intended recipient of 35-year-old letter

Local News


It’s a story that demonstrates Western New York’s small-town feel: Within hours of sharing Gary and Nancy Milligan’s discovery of an out-place-letter in their mail, the person it was intended for has been found.

That person is Tim Andersen, who lived at 8 Davis Road in West Seneca with his family from 1971 to 1985.

The back story has brought Andersen and his family a gift from the past they didn’t expect.

A peculiar letter was among the Milligans’ mail last week. Its old nature first caught their eye, followed by the realization it was post marked 1984.

The Milligans saw it was already open, and read that a grandmother wrote to congratulate her grandson Tim on taking his SATs. Nancy Milligan felt a sentimental desire to find the man the letter was intended for.

“There’s a calling for something. There really is. The calling is for us to find this gentleman,” she said.

That calling was quickly answered after the first News 4 story aired on Sunday.

“Two people that I grew up with sent a link through Facebook,” said Becky MacKay.

MacKay, who lives in Pittsburgh now, is Tim Andersen’s sister.

She recognized her old address in the News 4 report and her grandmother’s signature penmanship.

“I knew the handwriting. So I knew right away, whatever the details were, it was related to my grandmother and my brother,” she said.

Vera Andersen was Becky’s and Tim’s grandmother, who Becky says wrote to them often.

“She wrote many letters. My aunt and uncle were missionaries in Africa at one point, so that started her on that path, and she would write regularly to us, so yes, that was common,” MacKay said.

It didn’t take much for people to help the Milligans identify and locate Tim, who now lives in California; It turns out many people knew the Andersen family. Loren Andersen, their father, was pastor of First Baptist Church on Union Road, and the whole family was involved in the church and the Christian school they helped start.

The Andersens, formerly of 8 Davis Road, moved away in 1985, a year after the letter should have arrived.

Vera Andersen, the caring grandmother with beautiful cursive handwriting, passed away in 2008.

“My grandma was incredibly gracious and loving,” MacKay said. “It was just a surprising thing to find out that somebody who has actually been gone for years is sending you a letter.”

Tim was unable to speak with us so soon, but Becky says he’s excited to connect with News 4 later in the week as well as the Milligans, who have brought the Andersens such a gift from the past.


Gary Milligan grabbed the mail one day and sifted through it.

One of the letters looked old and was already opened.

“It was…kind of faded, and the writing was kind of faded, and I said to the wife, I says, ‘right address, wrong person,'” Milligan said.

Then he noticed the post mark date was 1984.

“Being that it was 34, 35 years old, to me I felt, and the wife said, that’s like a time capsule.”

Gary and his wife Nancy Milligan have been in their home 19 years, and this is the first time they’ve gotten a letter meant for the people who lived there before them.

They decided together to read it to figure out where it came from.

In enthusiastic cursive handwriting, a grandmother is congratulating her grandson on taking his SATs and getting ready to pursue a career.

That grandson is named Tim Anderson.

“She’s congratulating him, and it’s a beautiful letter,”  Mrs. Milligan said.

They want to return the letter to the Tim Anderson who once lived at 8 Davis Road in West Seneca.

Anderson would have been about 18 at the time his grandma intended for him to get this letter.

Nancy says she and her husband are having trouble finding him or a relative, so she hopes Channel 4 viewers can help.

“My heart felt sad. It felt sad. I want to find this man, so he can have his letter from his grandmother,” she said. “There’s a calling for something. There really is. The calling is for us to find this gentleman.”

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