Erma Bombeck (Erma Bombeck)

Erma Bombeck

Newspaper Columnist. For three decades she chronicled life’s absurdities in a syndicated column carried by hundreds of newspapers.  She was born Erma Louise Fiste in Dayton, Ohio to a father who was a city crane operator.  At age fifteen, she was hired by the Dayton Herald as a copygirl.  Shirley Temple came to Dayton premiering her latest movie.  Erma interviewed her and the story was published on the feature page.  That day marked the beginning of her writing career.  She enrolled at the University of Ohio then transferred to Dayton University where she graduated.  The Dayton Journal-Herald welcomed her back and she was assigned to the women’s section.  She began writing a column resulting in syndication appearing in thirty-eight papers the first year.  Five years later her column “At Wit’s End” was staple in five hundred and at the time of her death 800 newspapers.   Erma was asked to lecture.  Thousands of women turned out to hear her speak.  She became an Author turning out humorous book after book.   Erma was appointed to the President’s National Advisory Committee for Woman.   She had an eleven year association with the TV show “Good Morning America” which  began as a couple of minutes of her zany twist on life then evolved in doing interviews with celebrities.  Soon a movie and a sitcom for TV developed.  A TV movie “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank,”  based on her book was a dismal failure and a Sitcom “Maggie” suffered the same fate and was cancelled.  She became involved with the Arizona Childhood Cancer Service.  From a boy’s three wishes came the name for her book, “Want to Grow Hair, I want to Grow Up, I want to Go to Boise.”  Parts of it were funny and parts made readers cry.  The book was profitable and all proceeds went to the American Cancer Society and from foreign editions sales proceeds went to Eleanor Roosevelt International Cancer Research Fellowships.  She maintained contact and gave back to the University of Dayton in numerous ways, both time and financially.  She served on the board of trustees, spearheaded the University’s fund raising campaigns, spoke at events including a writers workshop.  She received an honorary doctoral degree and was named a lifetime honorary trustee.    Diagnosed with a liver ailment and faced with a kidney transplant, she was admitted to a hospital in San Francisco where she died at 69 from complications.  A mass was celebrated with fellow Ohioan and former neighbor, Phil Donahue giving a eulogy,  invoking laughter from the congregation telling of living next to the Bombecks in Centerville, Ohio.  Erma was brought back to her hometown and interred in the family plot.  A 29,000 pound rock has become a monument for her grave.  It was brought by flat-bed truck from her home in Arizona.  It reflects the empathy she had for the Southwest desert and to her years of  residency. (bio by: Donald Greyfield) Cause of death: Transplanted kidney failure


  • February, 21, 1927
  • USA


  • April, 04, 1996
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Transplanted kidney failure


  • Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
  • Ohio
  • USA

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