1 cubic foot (in 2 boxes)
Correspondence from John and Ingrid Hepler to Jett and Shelley Whitehead, 1978-1993 (Scattered), and undated. The collection is organized chronologically. The collection documents their deepening friendship between themselves and their families and numerous interests they shared. Towards the end of Hepler’s life, as he became unable to read and write himself, his wife Ingrid wrote on his behalf to Jett and his wife, Shelly. Broadly, they discussed many topics in their letters. One major topic they discussed is writing. Mainly, Hepler and Whitehead discussed poetry, poets and authors, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost (most frequently), and Shakespeare. They also discussed and critiqued their own writings and mailed each other written material that they found interesting (See July 1978 – May 1980, July 1980 – May 1981, July 1981 – May 1982, July 1982 – July 1983, August 1983 – March 1984, April – December 1984, January – June 1985, July 1985 – March 1986, January – August 1989, September – December 1989, February – May 1990, and June 1990 – June 1993, Hepler Writings, 1976, 1983 folders, and Jett Whitehead Poetry folder). Another major topic they often wrote about was their families. Throughout the collection, Hepler wrote about his children and grandchildren. When deaths in the extended families occur, condolences are sent and when someone is sick, well wishes are sent (See July 1980 – May 1981, July 1981 – May 1982, April – December 1984, January – June 1985, July 1985 – March 1986, April 1986 – November 1987, January – August 1989, September – December 1989, February – May 1990, and June 1990 – June 1993 folders). They also frequently wrote about everyday occurrences and sent each other good wishes. The relationship between the Hepler and Whitehead families strengthened over time. The Heplers sent the Whiteheads advice, encouragement, and considered them as part of their own family (See August 1978 – May 1980, July 1982 – July 1983, April – December 1984, July 1985 – March 1986, April 1986 – November 1987, September – December 1989, February – May 1990, and June 1990 – June 1993 folders). While health was discussed throughout the collection, it becomes a main topic when Hepler is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease towards the end of the collection. Ingrid informed the Whiteheads about John’s condition and carried on the correspondence for John when he could no longer read nor write. She also included her own feelings on the situation in her letters to the Whiteheads, noted that she missed the conversations she once had with her husband, and who he was before the disease as it sometimes made him abusive towards her (See June 1990 – June 1993 folder). In his letters, Hepler occasionally mentions CMU. He writes about other CMU professor like Daniel Weber (See July 1980 – May 1980 folder), Clarke Historical Library Reference Librarian and Faculty member Bill Miles (See July 1981 – May 1982 folder), and negative publicity that CMU received from the Detroit Free Press, regarding former Sigma Phi Epsilon president Paul Bonaccine, who was accused of sexually assaulting another student. The charges were reduced to attempted fourth degree criminal sexual conduct to which Bonaccine plead no contest. Sigma Phi Epsilon was stripped of its rights as a CMU Fraternity in 1984 for four years (CM Life, November 19, 1984, January 14, 1985, and See January – June 1985 and July 1985 – March 1986 folder).