The woman lovingly known as "Dear Abby" has died at the age of 94.
Pauline Phillips dispensed advice to thousands under the pen name Abigail Van Buren in newspapers worldwide, including Huntsville. Phillips died Wednesday in Minneapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Phillips' popular "Dear Abby" advice column tackled problems ranging from marital woes to job struggles and eating disorders. She even responded to a letter I wrote to her when I was a child in Minneapolis asking what she thought was most difficult, being the youngest, middle or oldest child. (She said it depended on whether or not you were the youngest, middle or oldest child.)
In 2002, the family revealed that the column's namesake suffered from Alzheimer's disease. At that point, her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who had helped her mother with the "Dear Abby" column for years, had completely taken over the article.
According to TMZ, Jeanne Phillips said, "I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend. My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change."
The column served as a great opportunity to address Alzheimer's. In a Dec. 7, 2012, letter, a reader wrote to Abby, "My 62-year-old husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and I have since learned that his co-workers spotted his troubles long before I did at home. … Friends, when you notice someone is declining, please speak up."
Abby responded, "Although there have been warnings that it was coming for years, the Alzheimer's epidemic is here now, and millions more families will be touched by this progressive – and ultimately fatal – disease."
To learn more about Alzheimer's disease, click here. You may also be interested in finding a support group in your community.