Pen Pals Reunite After 33 Years of Correspondence

Don Rensberger and Walter Swensen never imagined their quick meeting would lead to years of communication. A brief chat at a Norwegian restaurant turned into a three decade-long pen pal relationship.

Rensberger’s job in aircraft maintenance resulted in occasional trips to Norway. During his stays, he would visit a restaurant regularly with his friends to enjoy the food, music and dancing. On one occasion, Rensberger sat next to Swensen and the two engaged in light conversation. They left that night and exchanged contact information.

The men communicated by postal mail and then by email, and over the years they wondered why they kept it up so long, especially since they did not have a lot in common. But, they enjoyed sending family holiday pictures and special moments. Rensberger was a married school teacher with three children and Swensen worked as a welder and had six children.

During their communications, the pen pals considered ceasing their writing, and when asked why they let the correspondence last for so long, Swensen said, “That’s what I have asked myself.”

“I wondered, too,” Rensberger said. “But we just did.”

The two men tried to meet once before, but it was too difficult and they put it off to a later date. They are now more than ready to meet in person.

Swensen, now 60, flew to meet Rensberger, now 79, and reunite with his 30-year pen pal. According to Swensen, the men “stepped softly” at first and were apprehensive about speaking in person since it had been so long since they saw each other. They did not know each other outside of a piece of paper or an email message. It was difficult for them to develop this new level of relationship.

The Rensbergers welcomed Swensen into their abode, making him feel comfortable as if he was at home.

“I think we hit it off very well,” Swensen said. “I enjoy his company. I hope he enjoys mine.”

“Absolutely,” Rensberger responded.