Back in the days when I was a reporter I remember interviewing this man. Needless to say, I came away impressed. This was a very special man.

The Philadelphia Bulletin writes that this is the first Christmas in 58 years where Santa won’t be writing back to children:

We will feel less glum over the death of Santa if only we recall his joyous life.

You didn’t know? Yes, the man left us this past May, age 86. And though in his own rich imagination as well as ours, he toiled in deep snows of the far north, his workshop all these years had really been right here in Pennsylvania.

Grover Gouker returned to his hometown of Hanover, in south-central Pennsylvania, following his time in the Army during World War II. He took a job in the local Post Office, and for several years he observed that letters addressed to Santa got tossed into a wastebasket.

Why don’t I write back to these kids, he asked, not quite knowing, as he himself would later say, what he was getting into. Soon enough he was granted his wish, a post box for Santa: P.O. Box 188, Hanover, Pa.

So began a correspondence of 58 years, 1950 through 2008, the kids to Santa and Santa back to them. First came letters from children in Hanover, then from neighboring communities, ultimately from the 50 states and even from other countries. Never did a child receive a form letter, and seldom a letter shorter than a full page.

Read the rest here.