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Pat Conroy, author of "The Prince of Tides," dies at 70

Author Pat Conroy speaks with CBS affiliate WCSC in 2009.

WCSC

BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Pat Conroy, the acclaimed author of nearly a dozen bestselling books including "The Prince of Tides," died Friday. He was 70.

Todd Doughty, executive director of publicity at publisher Doubleday, said Conroy died Friday evening at his home in Beaufort surrounded by family and loved ones. Conroy, who announced last month that he had pancreatic cancer, was 70.

"The water is wide and he has now passed over," said his wife, novelist Cassandra Conroy, according to Doughty's statement. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Conroy announced on Facebook last month that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, CBS affiliate WCSC reported.

"With the help of the wonderful people at M.D. Anderson I intend to fight it hard," Conroy wrote."I am grateful to all my beloved readers, my friends and my family for their prayers. I owe you a novel and I intend to deliver it."

"Pat has been my beloved friend and author for 35 years, spanning his career from 'The Prince of Tides' to today," said his longtime editor and publisher, Nan A. Talese of Doubleday. "He will be cherished as one of America's favorite and bestselling writers, and I will miss him terribly," Talese said.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was among those who paid tribute to Conroy and his work on social media.

"South Carolina lost a beloved son tonight," Haley tweeted. "Pat Conroy will be missed. We can find comfort knowing his words and love for SC will live on."

According to Doubleday, Conroy wrote 11 books, including "The Great Santini" and "The Lords of Discipline," often dealing with dysfunctional families and troubled relationships.

In a 2009 interview, Conroy told WCSC that the city of Charleston, including his years at The Citadel, had an extraordinary impact on him as a young man.

"I think the truth is, everybody I write about is part of me," Conroy said.

 

Often his subject matter was controversial, even to members of his own family. Conroy based the main character of "The Great Santini," Lt. Col. Wilbur "Bull" Meechum -- a tough-talking, abusive Marine fighter pilot -- on his own father.

"His family, my mother's family, him, my mother, everybody went crazy and the only thing that rescued me was a terrific movie," Conroy said. Robert Duvall was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Meechum in the 1979 film.

"The Prince of Tides" was made into a hit 1991 movie starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, who also produced and directed it. Conroy worked on the screenplay and shared an Oscar nomination, one of seven Oscar nominations it earned, including best picture.