Pauline Friedman Phillips who wrote under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, died yesterday, Jan. 16, 2013, at the age of 94. Known for decades to many as "Dear Abby," Phillips had battled Alzheimer’s disease for many years. The obituary was published today on Washington Post.com.
“Dear Abby” answered letters until 2002 when it was announced that she had Alzheimer’s disease, according to the obituary. Her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, had been helping her mother for years, and at that point she took over the sole task of the advice column.
Pauline Friedman Phillips and her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer, were both advice columnists. Ann Landers had a different style in her column than did Abigail Van Buren. According to this obituary in the Washington Post.com, they had a rocky relationship at one point that was restored later in life. Their lives sounded like a 1950's television show:
The twins spent their growing-up years together. They dressed alike, they both played the violin, they wrote gossip columns for their high school and college newspapers. They attended Morningside College in Sioux City. Two days before their 21st birthday, they had a double wedding. Pauline married Morton Phillips, a businessman, Esther married Jules Lederer, a business executive and later founder of Budget Rent-a-Car. The twins’ lives diverged as they followed their husbands to different cities.
An interesting part of “Dear Abby’s” personal style was revealed in this obituary.
If the letters sounded suicidal, she took a personal approach: “I’ll call them. I say, ‘This is Abby. How are you feeling? You sounded awfully low.’ And they say, ‘You’re calling me?’ After they start talking, you can suggest that they get professional help.”
The generations who grew up with a newspaper every morning will long remember Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, who died in 2002, as American icons.
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