March 28, 1994 12:00 PM

Jacqueline Onassis’s struggle against lymphoma (PEOPLE, Feb. 28) inspired most correspondents to praise her for her courage in difficult circumstances. Others, with varying degrees of bitterness, criticized her longtime relationship with a married man. financier and diamond importer Maurice Tempelsman. More than one reader characterized Onassis as America’s royalty, while critics turned that notion on its head to suggest that, accustomed to fame, wealth and adulation, she is simply indifferent to the values of ordinary people.

JACQUELINE ONASSIS

I have always been a great admirer of Mrs. Onassis, and it deeply saddened me to learn of her latest ordeal. As with past obstacles, I know she will get through this with the grace and courage that have made her famous. To me, she’s our country’s answer to the Queen!

DEMETRIUS GODETTA, Greenville, N.C.

Jackie Onassis is the last remaining matriarch of a generation of hopes and dreams. Even in our country’s darkest moments, Jackie has guided us back to the light of hope. This time it’s our turn to show Jackie that we have enough strength and love to just let her alone and allow her the peace and quiet that she so deserves.

TREVOR RAVEN, Westerville, Ohio

On the day Jacqueline Onassis decided to announce her battle with cancer, I was busy announcing my own newly diagnosed HIV-positive status to my employer and close friends. At 35, my first concern was that life would end sooner because of possible disruptions, such as with work and the people I love. But after reading your cover story on the trials of the former First Lady, I went from despair to hope knowing that another human being facing life-and-death issues chose to be open and honest and maintain a regular schedule as a way of survival. I tip my hat to this lady.

ANONYMOUS

I can no longer sit by and listen to you and the rest of the media expound on the virtues of Jacqueline Onassis. Cancer should not happen to anyone, and I am truly sorry she has it. However, she has been carrying on with a married man for 17 years. “You say the public has looked the other way and not condemned her for it. Well, I disagree. What about the heartbreak she has brought to the wife of her “longtime companion”? Does the fact that she is rich and famous exclude her from scrutiny? Does it exempt her from the rules the rest of the world abides by?

R. RESI, East Islip, N.Y.

Surely you jest! Jackie Onassis is a husband-snatcher, an adulteress, and she’s living in sin—just like any other mortal who has forgotten the rules of the Good Book. I’m sorry she’s ill, but after 17 years I’m sure Mrs. Tempelsman is too.

JEAN MARTIN, Baltimore

You and I differ concerning the definition of the word courage. Courage to me is a young father with a wife and two teenage sons struggling each day to hold down a job, his wife working and the boys working part-time while attending school, all trying to have the necessities of life while fighting Hodgkin’s disease. How much courage does it take to know that you will never want for anything, that you have the money to buy the best medical care in the world and your every wish granted? Jacqueline Onassis, along with her children and grandchildren, will never know what it is to want for anything money can buy.

MARIE HUGHES, Rutledge, Ga.

PICKS & PANS

Is David Hiltbrand due for a vacation? The man needs a rest! To suggest a resemblance between Tonya Harding and Home Improvement’s Patricia Richardson is ridiculous, not to mention insulting to Miss Richardson.

SANDY STONE, Wichita Falls, Texas

Tonya looks just like Boy George—especially in profile.

LUCY JONES, Sewickley, Pa.

If you ask me, she’s a ringer for Reba McIntire.

JENNIFER EATON, Derby, Kans.

DOROTHY LETTERMAN

David Letterman’s mom, Dorothv, is indeed a national treasure. Too bad some of her charm didn’t rub off on her son. Personally, he annoys the hell out of me. CBS, listen up! Give Dorothy her own show and watch those ratings soar!

EVAN CUMMINGS, Burbank, Calif.

TRACEY GOLD

I thank PEOPLE for their sensitive and caring article concerning the recovery of my daughter, Tracey Gold. I would, though, like to set something straight. The remark made by Alan Thicke [“It’s my fantasy to see her chunky and say, ‘I’d like to see you drop a few pounds’ “] infuriated many people, and I can understand how it could be misinterpreted. Alan’s remark came from love and caring. He has been, and still is, one of Tracey’s biggest supporters. After Growing Pains ended, Alan always stayed in touch. He treated Tracey with love and concern and has always been there for her. I am sorry that his remark upset so many people. Alan was devastated that he might have hurt Tracey. I can only say that, as Tracey’s mother, I could not ask for a more loving and caring friend than Alan.

BONNIE GOLD, Burbank, Calif.

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