Father and daughter reunite after 30 years

Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 7:45 p.m. MDT

Charles Johnson hugs his daughter, Angie Whetman, for the first time in thirty years at the Salt Lake City Airport on Thursday, April 10, 2014. Whetman's aunt helped the two reconnect.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Teary farewells and emotional reunions are typical sights at Salt Lake City International Airport.

One reunion Thursday, however, was unlike the rest.

Angie Johnson Whetman and her father, Charles Johnson, were reunited after 30 years.

When Johnson, 55, walked over to Whetman and her family, he dropped his suitcase and hugged the daughter he hadn't seen since she was 3.

"You made it," Whetman, now 33, told her father.

The tears welling in Whetman's eyes spilled over and rolled down her cheeks as they embraced. The father-daughter duo could hardly get a word in because they couldn't stop hugging each other.

"It just feels good to finally see him after talking to him the past two months. He's just finally here," Whetman said.

Johnson's sister Kathy found Whetman on Facebook about six years ago. Johnson's other daughter visited Utah a few years ago and met Whetman. She later connected Whetman to their father in a surprise three-way phone call.

"Now that I've actually talked to him, now I know why we were unable to connect, and now we can move forward," Whetman said while awaiting her father's arrival.

Johnson plans to stay in Utah for a couple of weeks to spend time with his family, maybe visit the zoo and Antelope Island with his grandchildren.

"I don't have an expectations," Whetman said. "I'm just excited and nervous, and I hope that he's excited to have the chance to be a dad and a grandpa."

Johnson met his son-in-law and three grandchildren. Rainer and Eden, ages 9 and 3, had talked to their grandpa on the phone but were excited to meet him and made posters for the occasion.

Rainer's poster had a drawing of their grandfather and the words "Hi Grandpa!" Johnson got to hold 9-month-old Bryer, who gave his grandpa a good look before going back to his mom.

"It's amazing. It's just amazing to me," Johnson said as he choked back tears.

He said he couldn't put into words what he was feeling and was overcome with emotion.

"I was a little bit excited," Johnson said of the plane ride from California. "I haven't slept for two or three days."

He tickled Bryer's little toes and reached out multiple times for yet another hug with his daughter, thanking her and saying, "I love you."

Email: madbrown@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Madeleine6

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