Home > Deaf History, Dear Fookem/Bug > Emo Witczak Invented ” I Love You ” Handshape, Did He?

Emo Witczak Invented ” I Love You ” Handshape, Did He?

February 22, 2007

Last week we posted (https://fookembug.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/ily-handshape/) and asked if anyone out there who might know who invented “I love you” handshape. However, we got an email from Betty Witczak saying that she was told that her husband might did inventing it in 1942 but she is not sure. Please read on:

hello from betty witczak my deceased husband , emo witczak used the “I love you” sign all the time to me We met on gally campus the year of 1942 and he started using it then. many friends have told me they believe that emo originated that sign who knows? i would like to know who actually started it too Our message to Betty:

Dear Betty,

Please excuse our delay in answering your email of Febuary 14th. If Emo invented it, he made a most powerful message on earth is love. His ILY handshape showed you how much he had seen of God and his love for you. Thank you very much for sharing.

Fookem and Bug

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  1. Lanana
    February 22, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Excuse me, but I thought that Charles Guy Wonder, Jr. thought up the ILY sign. He continues to use it with his artistic inventions.

    SOMEONE needs to receive credit for this, that’s for sure.

  2. KD
    February 22, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Well, guess this will be an on going argument. Walter Herbold [deceased] of Great Falls, Montana. He is uncle to Bob, David [siblings currently in AZ] Rick, Ron, Pam Herbold [three siblings, Pam is in OR, Rick is in CA, Ron?] and Vickie Herbold Catron [now deceased who has two deaf son, Dennis of Ind. and Doug of MT]. My apology for not remembering other deaf nephews and nieces.

    Walter showed me a family pictue at young age, approximately in the early 1900’s. If I recall correctly, there were 11 deaf boys in the family. One of the brother flashed “ILY” sign. I do not know who has that picture, let alone if it has been perserved.

  3. March 4, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Correction: It’s Witczak not Witchzak. We apology for the error we caused. Updated.

  4. Bonita Olmer
    March 21, 2007 at 8:09 am

    KD, my mother is one of Walter Herbold’s nieces (Margaret, one of three children of Russell). Walter was one of nine boys, all born deaf. One died very young, but the other eight survived. I remember seeing a photograph similar to the one you speak of, but I don’t know where or when. I have an early one of my grandmother and the ILY sign. She was born in 1898 and looks to be in her teens at the time. KD, please look me up on the Herbold message board at ancestry.com. I would like to chat with you about family.

  5. Bonita Olmer
    March 21, 2007 at 8:12 am

    KD, I meant to tell you to look me up at genealogy.com on the Herbold message board.

  6. Bernard
    June 1, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I cannot believe that people are trying to convince you that they personally knew the inventor of the ILY sign.

    Jack Gannon’s book DEAF HERITAGE says, positively, that the ILY sign was “widely used” by the year 1905. That means it must have started before 1905. I suspect this means it started well before 1890.

  1. August 9, 2008 at 5:26 pm
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