Before Valentine B. Lawless went off to war in 1944, he indulged himself in a little piece of fancy. At 36, he was still as romantic as his unusual name suggested. And so he left a special provision to his will, to be read only in the event of his death by his brother Edward.
After Valentine did die, in a plane crash at Linz in October 1944, Edward discovered that his brother had been hopelessly besotted with a girl who loved another. In death, he wished that his estate–$3600â€”be used to support the weekly delivery of one perfect, anonymous rose to his secret beloved. It was his idea, he wrote, â€œto furnish the girl with the pleasure of receiving the rose, not to have her think of me because I sent it to her.â€Â
But just as Valentineâ€™s personal name reflected his character, so did the familial surname reflect sister Margaretâ€™s. She contested the will on the grounds that it was â€œnot practical,â€Â and in so doing caused Valentineâ€™s secret wish to become fodder for the national press, as well as the local rags. It is reported that the unnamed lady of the bequest is married and living in the Virginia Tidewater section.