Erma Bombeck’s smiling face is in the heart of the University of Dayton campus on a historical marker from the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and Ohio Historical Society.
The marker, located outside St. Mary’s Hall, was part of a program to highlight significant Ohio people and places for the state’s 2003 bicentennial. Bombeck, a 1949 UD alumna, is among the University’s most famous graduates.
Bombeck credited the University of Dayton with launching her writing career. Her syndicated column, “At Wit’s End,” appeared in more than 900 newspapers. She wrote more than 4,500 columns and 12 books, nine of which made The New York Times’ Bestsellers List. Bombeck also appeared regularly ABC-TV’s Good Morning America for 11 years. She was still writing her column for Universal Press Syndicate and developing a new book for HarperCollins Publishers when she died from complications of a kidney transplant on April 22, 1996.
Today, the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association co-sponsors the biennual Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, drawing hundreds of aspiring and professional humor and human interest writers from across the country, and the University created the Erma Bombeck Online Museum. The University also co-sponsors a popular writing competition with the Washington-Centerville Public Library and has launched a writer’s residency, A Hotel Room of One’s Own: the Erma Bombeck|Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence program. The Bombeck Family Learning Center, an early childhood education demonstration school on campus, is named for the Bombeck family.
Erma’s books include:
• At Wit’s End (Fawcett, 1967)
• Just Wait Til You Have Children of Your Own, co-written with Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane (Doubleday, 1971)
• I Lost Everything in the Post-natal Depression (Doubleday, 1973)
• The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (McGraw-Hill, 1976)
• If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (McGraw-Hill, 1979)
• Aunt Erma’s Cope Book: How to Get from Monday to Friday — in 12 Days (McGraw-Hill, 1979)
• Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession (McGraw-Hill, 1983)
• Family: The Ties That Bind — and Gag! (McGraw-Hill, 1987)
• I Want to Grow Hair, I want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer (Harper & Row, 1989)
• When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home (Harper Collins, 1991)