Editor's note: In tribute to her mother, Pauline Phillips, who founded the Dear Abby column in 1956, and who died Wednesday at 94, Jeanne Phillips has written this special letter to the readers of her column.
DEAR READERS: My beloved mother, Pauline Phillips, has passed away peacefully at the age of 94. Over the last quarter century Alzheimer's disease had stolen away bit by bit her remarkable intellect, but she battled her illness with courage and dignity. She was my best friend who can never be replaced.
As those of you who have read this column when my mother wrote it know, Mama had a deeply caring heart, a lively sense of humor and a deep devotion to all of you. She tried every day to educate, enlighten and entertain, and to inspire civility and respect for others in the many thousands of people who sought her advice.
Her days in the office were spent answering letters and calling people who were in distress. Over the years, her list of sources, friends and contacts grew into a Rolodex that was legendary. The demands on her time and travel were many, but she was a loving mother, loyal wife, a caring friend and wonderful role model.
Mama was born on July 4, 1918, to Russian immigrant parents and was the youngest of four daughters. She often said that until she was 12 she thought all the fireworks were for her and her identical twin sister, Esther (Eppie).
She always had an interest in and deep concern for other people. After her marriage to my father, Morton Phillips, she put that interest into action and became president of her local mental health society and trained Gray Ladies for the American Red Cross. She honed her skills as a writer by writing a letter to her parents every day and to her sister-in-law who had contracted polio and spent a year in an iron lung.
I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude to my mother's devoted, highly professional caregivers, Jane Ebertowski, Rachael Reisdorf and Erna Hoche, who were at her side 24/7 for the last 11 years. They are angels on earth and brilliant at what they do.
Please join me and offer a prayer for my mother. She had an amazing journey from Sioux City, Iowa, to shaking hands with U.S. presidents and British royalty. Ask that her spirit be surrounded by the souls of the many individuals whom she loved and who loved her. She has sat in God's waiting room for so many years, and now may their souls be joined together.
- JEANNE PHILLIPS, AKA GRIEVING IN MINNEAPOLIS