Sample Legacy Letter Books

To show how the stories and pictures can be presented together, here are some sample Legacy Letter books.  Click on the image or title to see their legacy books.

Legacy Letter Books with Tributes
Meet 100-year-young Dotti McKowen.

Harbour’s Edge, a continuing care retirement community, owned by Lifespace Communities Inc., hired me to ghostwrite, design and print her legacy letter book for her 100th birthday party. She had edited her letter, but she did not know that I worked with her adult children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in creating tributes to her in the back of the book. Her surprise was filmed in the legacy letter documentary by Tyler Council. Harbour’s Edge offers a financial gift to help defray the cost of creating a legacy letter book for any resident 100 years or older at this community. They also hire me to conduct a weekly legacy letter writing class for all residents. The students’ experiences in this class have also been recorded in the legacy letter documentary.


Seventy years of silence passed before Robert shared his WWII stories in his legacy letter book with his wife, four sons, and their families. His sons chipped in to give him an opportunity to create a legacy letter book with Leah. Also shared were his childhood Brooklyn stories, perspectives from him and his wife about how they met and felt about each other, and stories about his pioneering career with AT&T. In addition to his legacy letter, Robert was surprised to find tributes from three generations of his family in the back of the book.


Jocelyn’s daughter hired Leah to create her mother’s legacy letter book for an 80th birthday gift. Originally from North Carolina, Jocelyn ultimately moved to the Northeast. She shared compelling stories about her upbringing, including being the first black student in her school in New York City and strategies she used to travel safely in the south with her family that her children never knew.  Legacy letter books are a powerful tool to make history come alive.


Legacy Letter Books


Fern’s diamond brooch was brought back from Europe before the turn of the 19th century. It was given to Fern’s great grandmother on her 50thbirthday by her husband, who, in turn, gave it to Fern’s grandmother, mother and her.  Now at 90, it is her turn to pass the brooch onto her daughter, but this time, a legacy letter book of the history of the diamond brooch and information about the strong women in her family accompany the brooch. Fern attended Leah’s legacy letter classes and wrote this letter.  She hired Leah to edit, design and print her book with 100-plus of her favorite photos.   Fern’s book is an example of an heirloom legacy letter, which compiles photos and stories of a precious item(s) that a person wants to give away to loved ones. It includes the history of each item, why it is important to each of them, and what they would like to happen to it. 


Laurel gave herself a birthday gift and hired Leah to interview and write her legacy letter book for her three children.  Together, Leah and Laurel spent a few precious afternoons compiling her favorite memories and photographs of her childhood and adulthood, and stories about the important people in her life. The cover is a photo of her with her special cousin.


John’s good friend Dan hired Leah to create John’s legacy letter book for his three children. Dan went on a beautiful odyssey with Leah to create his own memoir book (insert link here) and wanted to share this experience with John.  This book includes snippets of family heritage, personal history, and stories that help illustrate his important life lessons and values.  The book also included tributes to his three children, including what he specifically appreciates about each of them. 

Tribute Legacy Letter Books


Liz was throwing her husband a 70th birthday – surprise party, but wanted to include an additional surprise. He accumulated all the material goods he could need or want, so she hired Leah to create a tribute legacy letter book.  Leah interviewed Howdy’s 20 closest family members, and friends by phone throughout the United States and ghostwrote their letters and designed and printed this book. 


Cathy wondered what meaningful gift she could give her husband for their 30th wedding anniversary.  She hired Leah to help her create the love letter of a lifetime, which is included in this tribute legacy letter book. Just before they drove to the airport heading for Europe to celebrate their anniversary, her husband Mark sat her down and asked her to reread the letter in his legacy letter book.  As she finished reading the letter, at the end of the book she found an envelope.  Inside, was a love letter from him to her thanking her for the legacy letter tribute book and their thirty-plus years together.   

Dear Michael

Six-year-old Michael lost his father to Pancreatic Cancer.  His mother, Melissa originally called me to help her husband, John, write a legacy letter book for his son, but he passed before he could begin the project.  Melissa asked if I would create an “Honor Your Angel Legacy Letter” about John for his son Michael. She sent me the contact information for 24 of their closest relatives, friends and colleagues.  Participants in this project were scattered throughout the United States.   I proceeded to interview and record these precious phone conversations, and ghostwrote their heartfelt letters about John.  Each person had a chance to review and edit their letter before the book was printed.  Each person had an additional opportunity to reflect, grieve, and share unique perspectives on Michael’s dad. Melissa gave her son his dad’s tribute book on the first Father’s Day he did not have his dad.  His mom knows he will treasure this book forever.   

More Sample Legacy Letter Books

Below are examples of Legacy Letters I wrote with my clients. (I have these clients’ written permission to share these works, of course. Your confidentiality will be strictly protected.)  I hope they spark ideas for your Legacy Letter. If you would like to read these sample Legacy Letters with images, click the buttons to view the PDF’s.

This wonderful woman decided to give herself the gift of a Legacy Letter writing service for her 70th birthday.

Her Legacy Letter was written for her four daughters, two son-in-laws and four grandchildren.
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As a thank-you gift, a professional organization purchased a Legacy Letter Gift certificate for the new president of their Board of Directors, and past Chair for the Philanthropy Sub Committee.

This gentleman created a Legacy Letter for his three young grandchildren, which he will give to them when they are a little bit older.
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This Legacy Letter is from an 84 year-old mother and grandmother with early Alzheimer’s.

She lives in a nursing home, and has eight children, seventeen grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. The interviews to create this letter were conducted over the phone, with an adult child at her side. The letter was given to her family on Valentines Day. The letter turned out so well, we created a Tribute Legacy Letter from her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren back to her for her 84th birthday.
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Zayde’s Legacy Letter

This Legacy Letter is the content from a Legacy Letter Book created for an 80-year-old man for his four adult children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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Barbara’s Legacy Letter

This Legacy Letter is the content from a Legacy Letter Book created for a 78-year-old woman for her son.

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This is an example of a Legacy Letter from a middle-aged mother to her teenage daughter and son.

This letter was written right before the diagnosis of the mother’s cancer. The mother beat the cancer, but was relieved to have written the letter should there be a recurrence. Tragically, her 19-year old daughter died just four months after the mother’s last chemo treatment.

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A Mother in her 70’s writing to her adult son and daughter.

They in turn shared the Legacy Letter with the grandchildren, who enthusiastically asked for copies of the letter despite their young ages of eight and eleven.

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A Children’s Hospital Foundation hired Leah to create a Tribute Legacy Letter Book consisting of Legacy Letters from four adult children.

The book was coupled with beautiful family photographs and quotes from the grandchildren sharing why they love grandma and grandpa. The Legacy Letter Book was given, as a surprise thank-you gift, at a 400-person dinner celebrating this couples philanthropy directed to the hospital. The adult children attended the dinner as well, which was a complete surprise to the couple. This is one of the four our Tribute Legacy Letters in this couple’s Legacy Letter Book.

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Dr. Hug’s Generosity Legacy Letter

The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) offers, FAER member who joins their Legacy Society, by giving a planned gift, free Legacy Letter writing services with Leah.  Legacy Society members, like Dr. Hug, are given the opportunity to reflect on the kind of legacy they wish to leave through story telling.  This letter focuses on the doctor’s history, motivations, passions and influences concerning his philanthropy. It is FAER’s hope that his letter, and other Legacy Letters, galvanize doctors to be more philanthropic towards their field of anesthesiology and towards unmet needs in our society.

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Dr. Simon Gelman’s Legacy Letter

Dr. Simon Gelman is a member of the Legacy Society of the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER).  This is his Legacy Interview.

As a five-year-old, Dr. Simon Gelman would sit on his grandfather’s lap and yank on his long white beard.  His mother would admonish him. “Don’t pull on your grandfather’s beard; it’s painful.”  His grandfather said, “No, it’s okay, it’s actually pleasant.”  When Dr. Gelman retold this story, he added with an unvarnished tone, “We laughed together not knowing then that grandfather would die during the blockade in Leningrad in 1942.”  “He was buried somewhere in a mass grave; we don’t know where.”

Dr. Gelman has lived an adventurous life that he is the first to admit, was not by choice.  No matter where he was pulled in his life, he made it pleasant.  He made what appeared to be negative into a positive.

He was born and grew up in Leningrad in the Soviet Union; emigrated to Israel when he was 38 in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War.  In 1976, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the United States.

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Samples of Leah Dobkin’s students’ Legacy Letters

A woman in her thirties wrote a tribute Legacy Letter to her mother.

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An aunt writes a loving Legacy Letter to her nieces about the strong women in their family.

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