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January 10: An Unusual Love Letter

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On this date in 1930, Edward Robertson, president of Wesley College, sent this typed letter to Vernon Squires, dean of liberal arts at the University of North Dakota:

“Dear Friend of Thirty Years:

This is a love letter. It is a bit unusual for one man to write a love letter to another man. I am not sure of the correct form or phrasing of it, but I am sure that no other sort would suit my idea of a letter that I wish to have bound together with writings of other friends in a Blue Key testimonial.

I met you thirty years ago when you had been two years at this University. Your eyes were aglow with inner fires that have lighted your way through all these achieving years. Your visions do not fade. In you the torch of inspiration is ever renewed from lamps of seers and sages of all time.

As husband, father, citizen, teacher, administrator and friend, your record stands forth sun clear. Your ideals have commanded your loyalties. I have never caught you counting the cost of high conviction or holding grudge after sharp contention. Your friendship is felt to be secure, enduring, and enriching. I have found it so and write these words with genuine and deep affection.

I am happy to share in the felicitations which record the love and gratitude of students of these rapid years who, if they could, would throng this campus and swell the chorus of praise. … I share the esteem of your fellow citizens who acclaim you one whom they name with pride as man of culture, integrity and, good-will – a Christian gentleman.

But I would not be counted as only one in a group. I speak for myself when I close as I began, – this is a love letter. I sign it

Yours affectionately, E. P. Robertson”

Wesley College was a Methodist college affiliated with the University of North Dakota at the time. Before he died, Vernon Squires negotiated an agreement with UND to save Wesley College from financial collapse.

When President Robertson sent this letter, his friend had been terminally ill. Vernon Squires died later that year on August 16, 1930.

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel

See references here.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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