Today in Ironton History June 18: A daughter and father reunion

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

By Joseph DiCristofaro
The Ironton Tribune

On the heels of Father’s Day in 1990, the front page of the Ironton Tribune debuted a story about a Pine Grove man who spent Father’s Day with his long-lost daughter from France.
Father’s Day 34 years ago looked much different than years prior for Jim Shope. Shope celebrated the day with his 37-year-old French daughter whom he never knew he had.
Brigitte Albaron was born in Limoges, France, and lived with her mother for the first 20 years of her life before her mother’s passing. Albaron lived many of those years believing that her father was a U.S. serviceman who was missing in action in Korea.
After her mother’s passing Albaron began a 17-year search to find her father. The search ultimately yielded answers through a phone call on Nov. 6, 1989.
“A man called me and asked if I’d been in France and if I had a girlfriend over there,” Shope told Tribune writer Amanda Stein. “When I said yes, he said ‘Do you know you have a daughter?’ I was speechless.”
Shope was stationed with the Army in Chateauroux, France where he met Albarons mother and became engaged. As duty called Shope was set to return to the United States, but his fiancé could not bear to leave her family for a foreign land. She did not know she was pregnant.
After the passing of her mother Albaron searched for letters “written in English” for hints of who her father was that her mother had received from Shope’s sister, Carole Smith. The letters were found and led to her finding the real name of her father, and eventually meeting him and her family during Christmas 1989.
After finding the letters Albaron placed a personal ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer asking for information about anyone who served in Chateauroux, France during 1951-52.
With help from a man named Charles Hinton, the two contacted the appropriate agencies and it led to the finding of her father.
Albaron kicked off her five-week stay on the weekend of Father’s Day in the U.S. with her newfound family in Lawrence County.
In sports, current Sports Editor Jim Walker covered the annual two-day Southeastern Golf Association Tournament where the Ironton Country Club won by a demanding margin of a 35-stroke victory.

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