Sally Loving was one of the original teachers at Washington-Lee High School. She taught home economics and social studies from the opening of the high school in 1925 until her retirement in 1962. In 2008, Sally’s niece donated many of her personal items to the Arlington Historical Society and among them was a box of letters from her students.

Many letters were from students who, after graduation immediately went into the military to serve in World War II. Others served their country before or after World War II. These young men wrote to her from basic training, from hospital beds, and in moments of homesickness. Some sent doodles and drawings and all thanked her for her letters to them as a life line to home. They were grateful for her updates on their classmates, school activities, and Arlington hometown news–reminders of better times.

We have included here all the letters AHS received. They span from 1938 to the 1970s.

But first, who was Sally Loving?

Miss Loving was well known and admired for creatively teaching a required course on the United States Government. In the course, her students reenacted democratic processes, including holding mock elections with students nominating candidates representing both major parties and getting a bill through Congress. Her classes selected student cabinet officers to debate issues of the day and appointed Supreme Court justices who wore borrowed robes to preside at court sessions to illustrate the role of the judicial branch in government.

United Civics Class Sally Loving

The swearing in of the President of Sally Loving’s United Civics Class was a solemn occasion. Chief Justice Walter Everett administers the oath of office to President-elect Michael Durfee (from the 1955 WLHS Yearbook)

Sally Loving was born in Fluvanna County, Va., where, after graduating from high school, she began her teaching career in a one-room school-house. She graduated from the State Teachers College in Harrisonburg, Va., now James Madison University, in 1924. She later did postgraduate work at the University of Virginia and at Columbia University.

Sally Loving 1924

Sally Loving in 1924 as she graduated from the State Teachers College at Harrisburg. Her yearbook biography said she was President of the Student Association and had previously served as its Secretary Treasurer. She was on the Student Council and was a member of the Lanier Literary Society, the Stratford Dramatic Club, the Home Economics Club, the Hiking Club, the Athletic Association, the Alumnae Associations, and was an officer of the YWCA. Her yearbook stated that she was “beloved of the student body, she has made student government a deep and permanent influence in her alma mater. Who more wisely or completely ‘gets down to brass tacks?'”

Throughout her career, she received many honors, In 1951, she was named Arlington County Woman of the Year. When she retired, she was the last member of the original faculty of Washington-Lee to do so and at that time, received an award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge “for service in promoting citizenship, patriotism and greater understanding of the American way of life.”

Sally Loving 1955

Sally Loving in the 1955 WLHS Yearbook

For her 80th birthday, members of the Washington-Lee class of 1942 established a scholarship fund in her honor. She died two years later, in August 1980.

W-L High School, c. 1927

Washington-Lee High School c. 1927 (Library of Congress)

AHS Curator, Haley Wallace, painstakingly transcribed each letter, scanned every page and envelope and found the class photos of the letter writers of each letter in W-L HS yearbooks. AHS presents them as a tribute to Sally Loving, excellent teachers everywhere, and to students who grow to care about learning and about each other. None of this could be possible without Sally Loving’s niece, Margaret Sadler Surgi, who found these treasured letters and donated them to the Arlington Historical Society so we could share them with you.

If you know more about these letter-writers and their lives afterwards, please leave a comment or email AHS at

The Letters

The letters are listed by the last name of the sender. Click on each letter to read the transcript. Click on the thumbnail image of each page of the letter and/or the envelope to see it larger.

Alderton, James R. (Class of 1936)

James R. Alderton

Allison, Wallace B. (Class of 1942)

Wallace B. Allison

Babcock, David C.  (Class of 1937)

David Babcock

Barnes, Jack  (Class of 1937)

Jack Barnes

Barton, Arthur C.  (Class of 1943)

Bloominburg, Wayne  (Class of 1942)

Bloomingburg, Wendell  (Class of 1942)

No images available

Brodie, Thomas  (Class of 1943)

Bushong, Howard R.  (Class of 1937)

Carter, Clifton W.

No photo available

Chew, Freeland F.  (Class of 1942)

Last Name Unknown, Earl

May be Earl Connor (Class of 1942)

Craig, Everett A.  (Class of 1942)

Custard, George A.  (Class of 1942)

Dorsey, Arthur L.

No photo available

Dickson, Allen  (Class of 1942)

Duncan, Bruce C.  (Class of 1942)

Garfield, Claude  (Class of 1942)

Good, Glendon  (Class of 1942)

Hargis, William J.  (Class of 1941)

Hildebrand, Kenneth D.  (Class of 1943)

Hill, Warren H.

No photo available

Holm, Duane (Class of 1950)

Jarman, Robert C.  (Class of 1942)

Kearney, Donald  (Class of 1942)

Kisseleff, Lyman  (Class of 1941)

Leatherwood, A. H.  (Class of 1942)

Leighty, Raymond  (Class of 1932)

Leizear, Francis  (Class of 1942)

[Last Name Unknown], James (Class of 1942)

No photo available.

[Last Name Unknown], Robert  (Class of 1942)

No photo available

Mahon, James (Class of 1942)

Mateer, Warren  (Class of 1943)

McDonald, W. Lee (Class of 1942)

Jean (Sadler) Surgi (W-L HS Alum), niece of Sally Loving, provided notes on photos taken in 1978 when Admiral Lee McDonald spoke at a reunion of the Battle of the Coral Sea Association.

Means, Gordon  (Class of 1945)

Mitchell, Richard P.  (Class of 1943)

Moody, Edward  (Class of 1943)

Morley, LeRoy  (Class of 1942)

Murdock, Charles Lawrence  (Class of 1937)

Rawlinson, Fred  (Class of 1942)

Ring, Jack  (Class of 1943)

Rothrock, Joseph  (Class of 1949)

Shelton, Jake  (Class of 1942)

Underwood, Lawrence  (Class of 1942)

Van Pelt, Warren  (Class of 1942)

Vanderslice, Sam  (Class of 1942)

Vass, Walter  (Class of 1946)

Von Sprecken, Theodore  (Class of 1937)

Walker, Gaylord  (Class of 1943)

Watt, George  (Class of 1942)

Weyraugh, Joseph  (Class of 1942)

Willis, John, C.  (Class of 1937)

Wright, Samuel  (Class of 1942)

If you know more about these letter-writers and their lives afterwards, please leave a comment or email AHS at