Dear Abby Dies: Famed Advice Columnist Was 94

    January 17, 2013
    Amanda Crum
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“Dear Abby”, the iconic advice columnist who handed down life lessons to millions of people over the years, has died after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She was 94 years old.

“Abby”–whose real name was Pauline Phillips–began writing under the pen name Abigail Van Buren in 1956. Over the years, she would give practical–and sometimes biting–advice to those seeking it after, as a housewife, telling the editors at the San Francisco Chronicle that she could do a better job with their advice column. The headstrong lady blew them away with her responses to their queries, and the paper hired her on the spot.

Some people may not know that Phillips was in direct competition over the years with her own twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer, who wrote under the pen name Ann Landers. The two didn’t have the closest relationship at the beginning of their careers, but later reconciled.

Phillips once said that her readers changed the way she viewed many things, especially marriage, and that she learned a lot during her time writing for the public.

“I always thought that marriage should be forever,” she said. “I found out through my readers that sometimes the best thing they can do is part. If a man or woman is a constant cheater, the situation can be intolerable. Especially if they have children. When kids see parents fighting, or even sniping at each other, I think it is terribly damaging.”

Daughter Jeanne Phillips, who has been co-writing the column with her mother during her long battle with Alzheimer’s, says she will continue the tradition of “Abby” in honor of her mom.

“My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change,” she said. “I will honor her memory every day by continuing this legacy.”

  • Trenton W.

    Very saddened to hear about Ms. Phillips’ death, but at least her daughter is carrying on her legacy. They are a smart, witty, thoughtful family and the words of the original Abby will be sorely missed. Just a shame that Dear Abby is now on the list of other felled celebrities this year http://www.ranker.com/list/celebrity-deaths-2013-famous-deaths-list/famous-celebrity-deaths-list. Not that death avoids people of note, it’s just always sad to lose people that touched so many.