Little girl was immortalized, then she grew up

Have you ever wondered what happened to Virginia O’Hanlon after she wrote that famous letter to the New York Sun asking if Santa Claus really existed?

I have. Maybe you have, too. If that’s the case, here’s what I have learned.

Virginia lived to the ripe age of 81. She died in a nursing home in 1971.

But before that — and after she wrote the letter that prompted the timeless editorial that assured her that “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” — she became a teacher. She earned her master’s degree from Columbia University and her doctorate from Fordham University.

Virginia married and had children. She moved from New York City to another community in New York.

I presume she lived a quiet, normal life. I am glad to know she got to grew old. I hope her family was near her when she died.

Virginia’s grandson, James Temple, said this in 2004 about his immortal grandmother, noting something she had said to him: “All I did was ask the question . . . Mr. Church’s editorial was so beautiful . . . It was Mr. Church who did something wonderful.”

“Mr. Church” was Francis Pharcellus Church, who penned those words in 1897 answering the question of a little girl.

That golden prose will stand the test of time forever and ever.

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