A Quad-City fan of Betty White joins millions of other fans in mourning the iconic “Golden Girls” actress, who died Friday in Los Angeles.

Now, even more, she will cherish a special memento: A handwritten letter from Betty White.

Betty White

Ellen Shapley, of Bettendorf, remembers the moment she decided to write to the actress.

“I was up one night watching Jay Leno talking with Claire Danes, who was just gushing about her love for the ‘Golden Girls.’ Leno says to her, ‘So if you would ever get to meet one of the ‘Golden Girls,’ that would be pretty special, huh?’” Shapley remembers.

Then Betty White walked out. Danes was speechless and just delighted, Shapley remembers.

“As I watched Betty walk across the stage, I started crying because she reminded me so much of my mother, who had died a few years prior,” Shapley said. “Many people through the years had told my mother that she reminded them of Betty.”

Ellen Shapley, who received a handwritten letter from Betty White, says people thought her mother reminded them of the actress. (photo courtesy of Ellen Shapley.)

“By coincidence, my mother was born in Dubuque three months before Betty and 200 miles away.  My mother also shared a birthday, Oct. 5, with Betty’s much-beloved husband, Allen Ludden.”

Shapley was so touched she found a post-office box for Betty White and sent her a note about seeing her on Leno’s show, how much it affected Shapley, and that she would travel anywhere to get a hug from the actress.

“Well, I didn’t get a hug, but a couple weeks later I received her wonderful note in the mail,” Shapley said.

“Thank you for your warm note and please know there is a big hug enclosed here,” the actress wrote. “I am flattered to have you think I look like your Mom. I know how much you miss her – I miss mine, too!”

The letter is signed “Thanks again, so much, Betty White.”

“As I watch all the tributes to her today, I am still struck by the similarities between my mother and her.  And she still makes me tear up.”