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How a Teacher’s Act of Kindness Bound her Student and Family Together

In 1958, John’s Cruitt’s mother fell ill and passed away shortly before Christmas. His third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, gave him a kiss on the forehead after class, and told him he didn’t have to be alone.

John never forgot that moment, and 54 years later wrote a heartfelt letter telling her how much she meant to him. Not long after, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they became so close.

The letter John Cruitt wrote to his former third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, in 2012.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.


Cecile passed away in 2019. But John had also grown close to her daughter, Allison Doyle. At StoryCorps, they discussed how John’s reunion with his teacher brought them together.

John Cruitt and Allison Doyle looking through Cecile Doyle’s  scrapbook on December 10, 2023.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: John Cruitt and his third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, reuniting for the first time in 54 years in 2012. Courtesy of Allison Doyle. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Original broadcast aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Update aired December 22, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.