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Published Sunday September 20th, 2009 at 2:42am

Original Article by Doug Cook

Pat Joralemon, 89, talks with her long lost half brother Keith Gibbs, 75, who traveled from Australia to Prescott on Wednesday to meet her for the first time.
Click here for video on the siblings' first meeting

With arms outstretched and eyes wide open, 89-year-old Pat Joralemon gasped as she stepped outside the front door of her eldest daughter's Prescott home this past Wednesday afternoon to embrace Keith Gibbs - a half-brother from another continent she never knew existed.

Gibbs, 75, had no idea he had a half-sister until his daughter, Leanne Gray, conducted some Internet detective work within the past year on and spotted a bloodline between her father and newfound aunt.

Earlier this month, Gibbs and his wife, Jan, and Leanne and her husband, Robert, flew from their native Australia to the U.S. just to meet Joralemon - a spunky Englishwoman who immigrated to New Jersey with her late husband, Nicholas, in 1946 and now lives in Arizona.

Joralemon's three daughters, Susie Hout, 64, Jessie Bourke, 60, and Maggie Joralemon, 59, played host to the magical meeting in Prescott. Both families will visit with one another for a full week, catching up on lost time.

"I was unprepared to see (Keith) because he arrived a half an hour early," said Joralemon, who bears a slight resemblance to Gibbs. "There he was standing there, and my jaw dropped."

Gibbs said he was "slightly surprised" to learn he had a sibling, but that it was also "beyond my wildest dreams."

"It's great to know I have a half-sister and that I can get to know her," said Gibbs, a retiree from New South Wales, Australia, who, like Joralemon, has no other siblings.

While the union was truly inspiring, the most intriguing part of this story is why it took so many years for these long-lost siblings to find each other.

In the mid-1910s, Pat Joralemon's father, Eustace Gibbs, left his home in New Zealand bound for England to serve in World War I.

By the time the conflict ended in 1918, Eustace had married a British woman he met there named Amy. Two years later, she gave birth to Pat. But Eustace did not want to stay in England and returned to New Zealand, leaving Amy and Pat behind.

Eustace soon lost contact with his former wife and daughter and remarried in 1926. Nine years later, he and his new wife, Ida, had Keith.

"My father didn't stay in touch with me and I didn't think about possibly having a brother or sister," Pat said this past week.

Added Gibbs, "It was the (way of the) world in those days not to discuss matters like this. Dad was shell-shocked after World War I."

Both families had no knowledge of one another until Leanne began digging on the World Wide Web.

In fact, Leanne said she didn't know much about her father's lineage until she became interested in family trees and genealogy. Among other things, she rifled through British birth and marriage records, where she stumbled on the name of her grandpa, Eustace Martin Gibbs.

"When I got my grandfather and grandmother's wedding certificate, I saw that a divorce had occurred and I became interested in the previous marriage," said Leanne, who coincidentally visited Sedona in 2006 without realizing she had relatives close-by.

On March 6, Leanne sent a letter to Hout at her Prescott home that outlined Leanne's reasons for believing her dad was related to Susie's mom.

"All I could think was, 'My prayers have been answered,'" Hout said.

Jessie Bourke said her mother long suspected she had a brother, but could not confirm it. Six years ago, Maggie Joralemon conducted her own genealogical search. She located an obituary of Pat's father from New Zealand, but it contained the wrong information.

"I wanted to do it for my mother," Maggie said. "But I reached a dead end."

As it turns out, provided all the answers they would need - with not much more than the click of a mouse.

"I went into a search and the information just popped up," Leanne said.