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Local Editorials

A thank you note a day keeps the doctor away!

Last week I wrote about a woman who has been writing to a pen pal in Australia for 77 years. Seems like letter writing runs in the family. One of her daughters, Cindy Rupe, took on the unique task/pleasure of writing a thank you note a day for nine months. Yep.

Cindy teaches second grade at James Elementary School in Ottumwa. She got the idea of the daily thank you notes from an article she read by John Kralik, “365 Days of Gratitude.”

Cindy started her thank-you-a-day note writing on Thanksgiving two years ago. She made a list of 25 people she wanted to express thanks to and started in. These were friends, family members, acquaintances, people she worked with, church friends and leaders — most  anyone she had come in contact with.

Cindy radiates positive feelings and receives them back. Sometimes, these thank-you notes were simply gratitude for being her friend, or a thank-you for services rendered, or gratitude for that person being part of the village that helped raise her three sons. 

And the results of this note writing were overwhelming — for the recipients and her personally.

One lady was about to quit her job, when she received the “thank-you-for-what-you-do” note. It turned her whole outlook around, gave her strength to carry on, and made her realize that what she does is indeed needed and appreciated.

Fr. Nick, a former well-known priest in Mt. Pleasant, was also a priest in Ottumwa. When he first came to Ottumwa, Andrew, Cindy’s oldest son, was Fr. Nick’s first baptism. In the note, Cindy thanked Fr. Nick for the positive influence he had been on Andrew, and relayed the good news that Andrew, now 24, was about to be married.

Fr. Nick wrote back that he had never received a note like that and how grateful he was to receive it. He went on to thank Cindy and her family for all the work and support they provided to the parish.

Cindy does most of her writing in the morning — she’s a morning person. When she writes to someone, that person is in her mind. She’s thinks about that person’s good qualities and tries to emulate them.

Can you imagine the positive influence a teacher like Cindy would have on second-grade students? She encourages her students to write thank-you notes to guest readers, and student teachers. 

All three of her sons, and her mother, have been guest readers. One of her sons, Patrick, is a Navy copilot on an F-18. One of her students wrote him a thank-you note for being a reader, and Patrick wrote back, “Listen to your teacher, she is very smart.”

Cindy aspires to what newspaper columnist Jim Davidson describes as the three stages of life: learning, earning, and giving back. In the first 25 years of your life, you are learning. The second twenty-five is devoted to earning. The last twenty-five should be giving back.

Cindy is in the “giving back” stage.

New Year’s Day is approaching, the time of reflection and resolution. Cindy has decided she is going to fire up the daily note writing again, starting on New Year’s Day.  This time she is shooting for the full year.

Watch out world!  

• • •

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at, or visit his website at

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