Ann Landers' Last Column

Caption ** FILE ** Ann Landers sits in her Chicago home in this October 1990 file photo. Landers, the columnist whose snappy, plainspoken and timely advice helped millions of readers deal with everything from birth to death, died Saturday, June 22, 2002. She was 83. (AP Photo/Mark Elias, file) AP

Newspapers throughout the country published advice columnist Ann Landers' posthumous finale Saturday - a reprint of a poem defining a successful person as one "whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction."

Landers, whose real name was Esther "Eppie" Lederer, died from multiple myeloma last month at age 83. She began writing the column in 1955, beating out 30 other candidates to replace Ruth Crowley, the first writer of the Ann Landers column.

Lederer's final column, carried in about 1,200 newspapers, also listed a reader's set of "Airline Etiquette" rules and included an anecdote from a reader describing how children who misunderstand prayers or songs sometimes substitute their own words.

Her daughter, Margo Howard, said the column will be ending because that is what her mother wanted.

"She owned the copyright and she did not wish for the name to continue," Howard told The Associated Press. "She felt it was very much associated with her."

The column will be replaced by one written by Lederer's two close associates, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. Creators Syndicate, the company that distributes the Ann Landers column, has signed on about 800 newspapers to the Landers spinoff, called "Annie's Mailbox."

The company also offered newspapers a three-column package that included "Annie's Mailbox," a classic "Ann Landers" column and Howard's twice-weekly "Dear Prudence" column.

Some newspapers, like the Wisconsin State Journal, left the decision up to their readers to decide which columnist should run in the spot Lederer left behind.

"It's going to be a little different but it should still be familiar to the readers," Sugar said. "We're trying to continue the Ann Landers legacy."

Lederer's twin sister, Pauline Phillips, also known as Abigail Van Buren, followed her into the profession as writer of the Dear Abby column.

Phillips' daughter, Jeanne Phillips, has contributed to the syndicated column since the early 1980s and took over most of the duties in the early 1990s. The column appears in more than 1,200 newspapers around the globe, according to Universal Press Syndicate.
  • Lloyd Vries

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