Former educators share friendship, birthday card decades after meeting

PARKERSBURG – Two former Wood County educators have been sharing the same birthday card for 20 years.

Vienna resident Kathy Hackett said she and her friend Carolyn Martin of Parkersburg met at Martin School in Parkersburg about 30 years ago. The two women have raised their children together, vacationed, retired from teaching and shared laughter and tears over the past three decades.

Describing themselves as “seniors,” the duo said they are blessed with the luck they have had in health.

“We have our health and that’s important,” Hackett said of the pair.

Although the special education teacher and aide are retired, they continue to substitute for the local schools because of their passion for the job. They each exercise on a regular basis and chase after their grandchildren.

Hackett has two sons, Brian and Brad, while Martin has two children, Michael Jr. and Melissa. Between the two women they have nine grandchildren.

They said the card they share during their birthdays in May has gotten them through a lot of tough times.

“The card has maintained our friendship,” Hackett said. “We look forward to it each year.”

With each passing year the women write another short message to the other with each new birthday.

They call it the birthday card that just keeps on giving.

Hackett is originally from Boston but moved to West Virginia when she began a teaching career.

“Having worked at Martin School in Parkersburg for many years, a unique and usually hilariously funny relationship began,” she said.

The pair joked about the money they were saving by using the same birthday card, and that they were helping the ecology by using the original envelope.

The card tradition began in 1993.

“We have both seen our sadness, our losses, our trials and our joys,” Hackett said. “But this card, this special card, it has a hold on each of us and sustains us like nothing else can do.”

The two said they feel like the most devoted friends in the country.

“We can’t wait to call each other to rejoice and be glad for what two friends have managed to accomplish through a simple card.”