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Friday, May 6, 2016

Bridging the Gap

Friday, September 5, 2003

- Local man meets brother he never knew he had

George Hewitt was more than a little surprised when his daughter, Becky, called a couple months ago and told him she'd found his brother. George never knew he had one. The brother, Marvin Anderson, 68, had been looking for his biological family for 18 years.

George, 72, with his wife, Beverly, had moved to Brazil from Cleveland, Ohio, 18 years ago to pastor the Eastside Christian Church. He retired from that position in 1994 and now serves as the Minister of Pastoral Care at the First Church of the Nazarene in Brazil.

The tall, slender, gentle man reflected on his formative years. George's memory of his mother during his youth is sporadic because she was in and out of his life. Most of his knowledge about his brother was retrieved recently from memoirs his mom wrote but that she'd recorded 70 years after the fact.

When he was about four, George lived with his parents and two sisters. His dad was a minister for the Grace Evangelical Church at 7th and Locust in Terre Haute.

"In her journal Mom wrote that a lady next door to us had a son from Boston visiting her," George explained. "Mom and that boy next door took off together in November of 1934. In Mom's memoirs she wrote that she was home at Christmas. I really don't remember any of this, nor do my sisters. We were just too young.

"Mom turned up pregnant. She said it was Dad's but he couldn't accept that it was his child. He stayed with us kids in Terre Haute and Mom went to Gary, where her mother lived, to have the baby and put it up for adoption.

"Dad was a gracious man and a good man. He forgave Mom and tried to keep the family together."

But Mr. Hewitt eventually divorced his wife. Later, however, they remarried. George's dad, George Sr., became an evangelical minister and traveled with the job. They moved a lot. George went to seven or eight different schools while growing up.

"Mom was in the home part of the time I was growing up," George said. "But I was not totally raised in our family home. During part of the time my parents were divorced I was farmed out for a while, working for my keep. I worked on a private dairy farm. And I spent two years in the Wisconsin School for the blind.

"Both my parents had bad eyes and I started wearing glasses when I was five. They thought I was going blind. Either God healed me or I was misdiagnosed. I don't have a major visual problem now.

"Dad was a good leader and a kind man. With my mother, the only thing I can think of, personally, is my mother had personal problems for years. In 1950 Dad went to Jamaica with the church. Mom filed for divorce on grounds of desertion. She once told us if she hadn't left Dad he would never have been successful like he was."

George, who used to be an automobile salesman, feels he was led to the church through his dad's work.

"I have my dad's disposition, attributes and character," George said. "And compassion, trying to meet people's needs. Marvin seems to have those same characteristics."

Marvin is a retired Lutheran pastor after 35 years in the ministry. His parents moved to California where he was raised and still lives. Eighteen years ago, when he was 50, Marvin sensed that he did not belong to the family who raised him. The man who stands 6' 3", discovered that his father, who was short as was his mother, was sterile. Marvin asked his dad if he was adopted. His father answered, yes.

Marvin's parents, Martin and Sylvia Anderson, lived in Hessville, Ind. at the time of the adoption. They provided Marvin with the adoptive papers which had the name of the hospital where he was born and the name of the doctor who delivered him, Dr. James White. The papers also gave the names listed as his biological parents. They even had a letter from Dr. White dated July 6, 1935.

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Anderson,

If you folks are still interested in adopting a baby, I have a nice baby boy I would like you to see. He is in the Methodist Hospital here in Gary, and I would like you to come over to see him either Monday or Tuesday.


James M. White, MD"

Marvin enlisted the help of a friend who acted as a private investigator, when he had time, and a search for the senior George and Opal Hewitt and their children was begun.

George and Beverly Hewitt have four grown children. Ronald lives in Seward, Alaska. Jonathon resides in Kokomo, Ind. Tom, who lives in Brazil, is a Physician's Assistant and works in Clay City. Rebecca (Becky) Walraven lives in BenWheeler, Texas.

Becky developed an interest in genealogy and spent considerable time searching the family history on the Internet. She was really excited when she was contacted by a man in California who said he was looking for George and Opal Hewitt who had a child born in Gary, Ind.

George and his sisters, Joyce Davis from Northbrook, Ill. and Mary Campbell of Brazil, know that Marvin is at least a half brother. Without DNA testing, which has been considered, they can only speculate if they are full biological siblings.

"I'm going to look at his hands," George's wife, Beverly said. "If he has hands like George, I'll know it's his brother. When I first met George's dad at a family gathering at a restaurant before we married in 1951, he held my hands while talking to me. George and his dad both have very distinct hands."

The brothers first talked on the phone July 12. "I'd had two weeks to prepare," said George. "From our daughter and the private investigator I knew some of Marvin's background and about his ministry. It was a very pleasant experience. Marvin's a very compassionate and tender person. He sounded tearful on the phone. He was very excited and pleased to find his siblings.

"It's important to know that Marvin loved his adoptive parents very much. He was an only child and was very much loved and cared for. He has no ill feelings.

"We're satisfied it's going to work out," George said. "We're comfortable with it. I don't foresee any complications.

"Things might have been different had we been raised together. He's had a good life and I've had a good life. I'm at peace with it and I'm happy for him. He's searched for and wanted this for years. I'm happy he found us."

George met his brother for the first time late Thursday afternoon at the Indianapolis Airport. They're having a family reunion dinner today at the Western Rib-Eye Restaurant in Terre Haute. At Marvin's request they'll have a cake with the words "Together at Last" and the names of the four siblings.

Both men have been blessed with sweet mellow voices and plan to sing a duet at church tomorrow.

"On the last e-mail we got from Marvin before his arrival," George offered, "he said to be ready for lots of hugs and tears."

And it came to pass.

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