Roger Clay and his family from Fairfield, Ohio, were vacationing in Florida in 1984 when the boy stuffed the note into a Pepsi bottle and sealed it with electrical tape, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
The note gave his name and address with a request for the finder to contact him.
Don Smith found the bottle last Friday and set about looking for the family. When he found them, he learned he was calling on the fifth anniversary of Roger's death in a motorcycle accident.
The family was again vacationing in Florida, wishing to be away from home for the anniversary.
Smith met with the Clay family for dinner and turned the bottle over in an emotional exchange in which the family recalled the day their son penned the letter and set it adrift.