PEORIA, IL - Fred Stobaugh of Peoria, Illinois, has written two songs in his 96 years. One was about Branson, Missouri. The other is about his unending love for his wife, Lorraine.
Peoria's Green Shoe Studio introduced Stobaugh to the world in a blog post from June. It describes how the studio received a manila envelope containing a handwritten letter and a page of lyrics for a song titled "Oh Sweet Lorraine" from him as an entry in its online singer/songwriter contest.
The letter described how Stobaugh's wife had passed away in April, ending their nearly 75-year romance, and his reasons for writing the song.
Studio members were so moved by the story and song, they decided to meet Stobaugh. They also decided to professionally record the song and make a short documentary about it. The studio posted the documentary on YouTube in July and on its Facebook page, where it was noticed by fans and friends but went largely unnoticed until recently.
In the past few days, it has been featured in Britain's Daily Mail and on Australian television. It also made the front page of the social sharing platform reddit.
Green Shoe Studio did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The video features old family photos of Fred and Lorraine, as well as the letter. But he is definitely the star of the show.
"She was the prettiest girl I ever saw. ... I just fell in love with her right there," he says in the video.
"After she passed away, I was just sitting in the front room one evening by myself, and it just came right to me almost. I just kept humming it and singing it. It just fit her," Stobaugh says.
Near the end, the audience gets to sit with him as he hears the recorded version of the song for the first time. He wipes away tears, and his eyes seem fixed on a faraway place. Finally, he responds quietly, "It's wonderful. Just wonderful."
"Wonderful" is also the response the story is getting from online audiences.
"If you're going to watch this," Frank M. posted on YouTube, "have a hanky handy."
Reddit user sad_little_turtle shared, "My grandfather passed away earlier this year after spending over 60 years with him I overheard my grandmother one evening talking to his picture, 'Oh John, why couldn't you take me with you? It's so lonely here without you and I bet wherever you are is a whole lot better than this lonely place.' As sad as those stories/moments are they make me wish that I get the chance to share an entire lifetime with someone special."