Pen pals for about five years, Vari Nelson of Centerville, Utah, and Maxine Withington of Rugby, England, found an even closer tie when Vari discovered Withington connections in her family line. The young women, now 15 and 16 respectively, became pen pals when Vari's great-aunt and great-uncle, Richard H. and Faye Walch, served a mission in England from 1986-87, and brought back Maxine's name with the suggestion that Vari write to her.
"We've told each other over the years about what we were doing, vacations and other things," said Vari.Recently, the two teenagers met for the first time. Maxine's parents, Keith and Chris Withington, visited the United States and were Sunday guests of Vari's parents, Fred G. and Rella Nelson of the Centerville 9th Ward, Centerville Canyon View Stake. Vari accompanied the Withington family on a trip to California.
Brother Withington, a former bishop of the Rugby Ward and now a high councilor in the Northampton England Stake, is employed by the Church's Family History Department, collecting genealogical data from sources in the British Isles and adding it to the Church system. Many of the records are in old church archives, he said.
Vari was studying her family's genealogy for a Young Women project when she discovered the name of Ann Withington, born in 1625 in London. The ancestor died in New York, indicating colonial ties for the Nelsons early in American history.
"We haven't figured out the connection yet, but we are possibly related," said Vari of her pen pal.