West Branch Man Connects With Wife Through Love Letters

Valentine’s Day may be long over, but true love is something that lives on every day, and one couple in Ogemaw County knows that for certain.

Img 5087Rex and Ellie Boots met, unknowingly, in 1959 at 4H farm camp in Minnesota

“I was peeling potatoes for a whole day,” said Rex. “I never thought of it, I never paid any attention to Ellie.”

But it wasn’t until after they got married in 1963 that they realized they had met before.

“After we were married, Ellie was showing my mother her scrapbook,” he said. “My mother looked at a picture of the camp and said that’s Rex in the plaid shirt!”

Every marriage comes with obstacles. Ellie was diagnosed breast cancer, not once, but twice—in 2001 and 2012.

“I got her home from being in the hospital for a week, and we had our 50th anniversary,” Rex said.

They had to move out of their apartment in Minnesota after a fire.

They moved to West Branch in 2013 for a fresh start, but Rex never expected their next journey in life to be difficult. Ellie suffered a mini stroke in the fall, a few months after the couple moved.

“The neurologist came in to me and said your wife has Alzheimer’s,” he said.

Ellie moved into a nursing home, and Rex visited her every day.

“Every single staff member knows who Rex is, and they see the devotion,” said Shelby Marshall, Director of Business Development, Villa Healthcare West Branch and Rose City.

“I’m sitting up at the desk and here comes Rex Boots with his, and I’m not talking store bought flowers, I’m talking flowers that he would grow specifically for Ellie,” Mashall said. “The devotion was just something that I found to be beautiful.”

But then the pandemic came, and those visits became harder to do outside.

“Then, I started writing what I call the love letter,” said Rex. “I would have a picture and then write a little bit of something, and I did it especially not to write so much, but to make it something that she might understand.”

Rex writes about whatever’s happening in his life, to keep his wife connected to him.

“I don’t think Ellie knows what it is, that’s kind of the case with Alzheimer’s,” Rex said. “But she knows that there’s something there.”

Though he is modest about his love for Ellie, when you read the letters, they speak for themselves.

“In the presence of love, miracles happen,” he said, referencing what he writes at the bottom of every love letter. “Ellie is a miracle.”

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