Family reacts to attention since going viral, relative describes how she united father and son

Posted at 10:31 PM, Jan 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-21 23:15:43-05


The story of Tony Trapani and his newly found son, Samuel Childress, is being shared around the world, but bringing the two men together took the tireless efforts of Tony's sister.

The story brought to you first on FOX 17. Trapani found out that he had a son he never knew about after discovering a letter hidden by his deceased wife.

The family says that since receiving international attention,Tony, 81, has been "shaking his head and smiling."

Of course in 2015, it's no secret that social media makes it easy to find just about anyone. True to form, it was ultimately Facebook that was able to bring father and son together. And it was the determination of the Tony Trapani's sister that made it all a reality.

Trapani said that the room where his deceased wife hid a letter sent to him in 1959 was the one place in the house his wife didn't let him in. "So that room was off limits. If I wanted to talk to her, I had to knock on the door and tell her what I wanted or what I was looking for, and she would tell me, and that was it."

While sorting through his wife's files after her passing, Trapani came across the letter. "It wasn't a simple matter of just pulling it out and looking. She had it tucked away, I guess somewhere in the back of the filing cabinet. It was stuck there."

It wasn't long until Trapani's sister Arlene Schulte showed up, after hearing of the letter's discovery.

Arlene first turned to social media to find Trapani's son Samuel.

"I sent it last February, a Facebook message to his wife," said Arlene. "I never got a response back."

Then, she tried finding a phone number for Samuel. "I either got disconnected or I got somebody on the phone. They said it was the wrong number."

Arlene began to feel discouraged that maybe she wouldn't be able to find her brother's son.

"I kind of gave up. Months went by, because I had some medical issues with surgeries and things like that, so I kind of gave up."

Then early in January, Arlene thought she'd give it one more shot, requesting friends on Facebook since no one responded to her messages.

"And then I went to the store, came back, and I seen that she (Samuel's wife) accepted it," Arlene said. "I was hysterical."

"She gave me her phone number over the Facebook. I called her. We talked. We started crying. It was very emotional," said Arlene.

From there, things started to move fast, with father and son connecting through video on the phone the next day.

Tony also said that he remembers dating Samuel's mother back in the early 1950's. The the couple would often skate at an old roller rink off of Division Avenue, he said.

The family has a blood test scheduled to be 100 percent sure of their relation.