World’s Oldest Pen Pals Turn 100, After 84 Years of Transatlantic Letters–And Now They’re Meeting on Zoom

The world’s oldest pen pals have both turned 100 years old, and are celebrating 80 years of letters sent across the pond.

Geoff Banks from Devon, England, and American Celesta Byrne from New Jersey started writing to each other in 1938, when they were just 16-years-old.

They were paired by an educational project that sought to connect British and American students—and 84 years later are still corresponding.

“Somehow I ended up with this letter from an American girl, and we just kept writing ever since,” Geoff told SWNS news.

Former engineer Geoff even kept in touch during World War II, while he was serving as a mechanic on the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Pacific.

“There were a couple of years where we struggled to keep in touch because of the war,” he explained, saying that some of his letters sent during the war were finally forwarded to her after it ended.

They began using email a while back, to give Geoff a break from putting pen to paper, which became difficult—and recently they had their first Zoom call

“In one of my early letters I sent her a copy of a British paper in 1953 which had Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on the front of it. But we generally just chat about daily lives and our families—and put the world to rights, you know.”

“She’s a very interesting person. She’s always been there to write to, even if it was just birthday cards and Christmas cards.”

Despite having chatted for decades (6 years longer than the current Guinness World record pen pal relationship of 78 years), the centenarian pair only met for the first time in 2002—when Geoff visited New York City at 80-years-old for Christmas. They also met for a second time two years later, when Celesta invited the traveler to her New Jersey home for lunch.

Despite having such a unique relationship, the pair never became romantic, even after Geoff’s wife passed eleven years ago.

Celesta confirmed the claim, saying, “No, we’re just friends, like people who live next door.”

Nowadays, Geoff relies on young people to assist him in setting up a chat with her, using “this new thing called Zoom”.

Celesta does the same from her new residence in Texas, where she moved to be close to family.

“It’s nice to hear his voice,” she said.