Erma Bombeck

Erma BombeckErma Bombeck (1927-1996) was born in Dayton, Ohio, USA. When she was nine, her childhood home including all of the furnishings and furniture was repossessed by the bank after her father, a crane-operator, died of a stroke. To survive, Erma developed a wise-cracking, comic approach to life. At 13, she wrote her first humor column for her school newspaper.

At the age of 20 she was diagnosed with polycistic kidney disease, a hereditary disorder which causes cysts to form on the kidneys. Told that she would one day suffer kidney failure, Erma went on with her life, destined not to be controlled by her disease. She enrolled in and graduated from the University of Dayton. Longing to be a journalist, Erma was told by professors that she would never succeed in writing. Hoping to prove them wrong, in 1949 Erma took her first job in the field of journalism as a reporter for the Ohio Journal Herald.

The same year, she married Bill Bombeck, a school administrator whom she had met in college. After five years with the paper, Erma and Bill were ready to start a family, and she left her career behind. The couple had three children during the 1950s: Betsy, Andy, and Matt.

When her children reached school age, Erma spent months talking to the editor of a local paper about the idea of producing a daily humor column. The editor of the paper wasn't thrilled with the idea of a homemaker column written from the perspective of a 37-year old unemployed journalist, but agreed anyway. At Wit's End debuted in the Kettering-Oakwood Times in 1964. Erma soon had a huge following in housewives around Ohio. As news of the column spread, At Wit's End became a nationally syndicated column in 1965, running twice weekly in some 500 newspapers.

In 1971, Erma and Bill packed up the family and moved to Paradise Valley, Arizona. For the next 30 years, Erma wrote about being a mother, wife, journalist, and woman. She began giving speeches at Universities and writing books, made up largely of her popular column. Two of her most well known books are The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (1976) and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? (1978).

During the course of her career, Bombeck published more than four thousand syndicated columns in 900 papers nationwide, wrote 15 best-selling books, and became one of the world's most beloved humorist columns. She died of complications from a kidney transplant on April 22, 1996.