Hadley resident received letter from former President Obama

  • Hadley resident John Rella, 64, poses with a letter from former President Obama, which he received on Jan. 18. Gazette Staff/Carol Lollis

  • Gazette Staff/Carol Lollis

  • Gazette Staff/Carol Lollis

Published: 2/6/2017 12:08:52 AM

NORTHAMPTON – Hadley resident John Rella’s 65th birthday came three months early this year when he got an unexpected gift in the mail.

At the end of former President Barack Obama’s final term, and with encouragement from his wife, Pat, Rella had mailed a hand-written letter to the president at the White House.

Rella wrote about his respect and support for the things Obama accomplished in office while maintaining “grace and dignity,” as he put it. He even compared him to “some of the best,” including former presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Theodore Roosevelt.

“I felt he was one of the best presidents,” Rella said. “He just doesn’t get enough credit.”

Rella mentioned in the letter that receiving a signed reply from Obama would be “the best birthday present” he could ask for. On Jan. 18, he got just that.

The response, on White House stationary, thanked John for his letter, and assured him that the former president would keep working to maintain the country as a “beacon of hope and opportunity.”

“I want you to know that messages from people like you have touched my heart and informed my presidency,” the letter read.

It was signed at the bottom by President Obama. Rella is convinced that the signature and letter are genuine. He cited evidence such as a typing error, and a signature that may not exactly match other, computer-generated letters.

Either way, Rella said he is happy he received a memento from one of his idols. As for letters to future presidents, Rella said one was enough.

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