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How one profile led a ghostwriter to an unlikely friendship: "Age is just a number"

Ghostwriter creates unlikely friendship
How one profile led a ghostwriter to an unlikely friendship 07:38

A young ghostwriter is showing that age is just a number as she created an unlikely friendship from one profile she wrote.

Olivia Savoie has written life stories on behalf of 50 people and preserved them privately in little books.

"Whether I've interviewed a farmer or a philanthropist, they all have a story that's invaluable to their family," Savoie told CBS News contributor David Begnaud. "A book I find, it's a way to safely store memories over time and photographs. We curate their most cherished photos too; so that they're never lost."

Only close family get one of the very few prized copies.

All of Savoie's stories are about people who, towards the end of their lives, let down their guard to tell this south Louisiana writer what made them and what mattered most.

"My work makes me not afraid of age at all, and definitely appreciate it, and the wisdom that comes with it," the 29-year-old said.

At first, Fred Vollman, 86, didn't want his life story in a book, but his children did.

"So he humored them and he met with me," Savoie said. "And I wasn't sure how that would go because in the past, everyone was always so eager to sit in on interviews and he wasn't so excited about it."

Vollman is a retired businessman, an avid pilot, and a father of five who lost his first wife to cancer, then remarried and together there are 33 grandchildren.

"He shocked me because, within minutes of meeting him, it's like his resolve just melted away. I felt like we had known each other for so long."

In the four years since their initial meeting, Savoie and Vollman developed an unlikely friendship.

"We talk a lot, and I've become interested in her entire family," Vollman said of his relationship with Savoie. "She has two children now and a wonderful husband. And we follow each other, not on a daily basis, but very often telling of, you know, things that are happening to us. What's happening good, what's happening bad."

In writing her books, Savoie sometimes receives written reflections from family members. One came from Vollman's son, Willie, which turned out to be extraordinarily special.

"I didn't tell you at the time that what Willie sent me was so different than what I've ever received from anyone because it was -- it was so poetic and so beautiful," she told Vollman.

Willie died suddenly a year after Savoie finished Vollman's book.

Vollman read part of the reflection from his son, which said, "I remember him for being the smartest man in the room. I remember him for always being generous without hope of reward. I remember him as someone who does not let discomfort get in the way of obligation. I remember him as a stern, but loving dad."

Savoie and Vollman said sharing what's so deeply personal has cemented their friendship.

"Both of us know that age is just a number," Savoie said. "And we had a connection and things in common and we cared about each other. And so why not be friends?"

Savoie believes that her friendship with Vollman is a story that needs to be heard.

"So I wanted to write about how two people who seemingly should have nothing in common can become friends," she said. "I wanted to explain how we just had a connection, a bond, how we shared in each other's joys, in each other's sorrows, had a few common interests and just became friends."

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