Erma L. Fiste

From Ohio History Central

Erma Bombeck was a well-known twentieth-century American journalist and humorist.

Erma Louise Fiste was born on February 21, 1927, in Dayton, Ohio. Her father died when she was nine years old and the family was left in poverty. Erma later graduated from Patterson Vocational High School, where she wrote for the school paper. She also served as a copygirl for the Dayton Herald newspaper.

After graduating from high school, Fiste enrolled in Ohio University and then in the University of Dayton. She graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949, with a degree in English and went to work as a reporter with the Dayton Journal Herald. In that same year, Fiste married Bill Bombeck, her college sweetheart and a school administrator. Erma Bombeck continued to write for the paper over the next five years, but she later resigned her position to raise a family.

After spending ten years as a homemaker, Bombeck returned to her newspaper career. She wrote a weekly column for the Kettering-Oakwood Times and earned three dollars for each column. She titled the column, "At Wit's End." Bombeck took a humorous look at motherhood and housework. She challenged the view that women were happy at home caring for their families. In 1965, newspapers across the United States carried Bombeck's column twice each week. She wrote the column for the next thirty-one years and completed over four thousand articles. Her popularity made her a household name. Bombeck began giving speeches based on her columns, and worked as a correspondent for "Good Morning, America" for eleven years. She wrote fifteen bestselling books. Bombeck donated all of the profits from "I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to go to Boise" to cancer research. Bombeck died in 1996 from kidney transplant complications.

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