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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Catalyst for Laughter and Joy

“If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.” – Erma Bombeck

Born on this date in 1927, Erma Bombeck was perhaps the “most read” columnist in America and Canada in her lifetime, with more than 30 million readers per week in some 900 newspapers across the two nations. 

A self-proclaimed “chronicler of suburban life,” she also published 15 books, most of which became bestsellers, and wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns, using broad and sometimes eloquent humor.   She died at age 69 after battling nearly a lifelong kidney problem complicated further by a bout with breast cancer.  Even during treatment she found humor, once noting, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” 
                           Bombeck’s writing began at the University of Dayton where she worked for the school newspaper.  After college she wrote for the Dayton Herald, but said her “straight news” writing was less than staller.  “I was terrible at straight items,” she said.  “When I wrote obituaries, my mother said the only thing I ever got them to do was die in alphabetical order.”   After becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started writing a weekly humor column for the Dayton Shopping News and the rest, as they say…

Her popularity led to regular appearances on radio and television and even as catalyst for the 1986 Rose Parade theme – “A Celebration of Laughter” – where she was named Grand Marshal.  Bombeck also wrote eloquently for human rights and against poverty, disease and hunger.   Her book I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer, raised millions for medical causes and received the American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor.

While battling her own illnesses, she said she planned to write as long as possible.  “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.”

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