The family of one of Dayton's most beloved authors is leaving nearly half a million dollars to further the cause of writing. Erma Bombeck's husband, Bill, died in January, leaving $230,000 to the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop and $230,000 to The Bombeck Family Learning Center at the University of Dayton, the school announced Thursday.
Erma Bombeck was born in Dayton, graduated from UD, and became well known for her nationally syndicated humor columns about suburban life. She authored 12 books, nine of which earned spots on The New York Times bestseller list.
UD says the latest bequest brings the workshop's endowment to more than $500,000 since it was started in 2004. The Learning Center was expanded in 2000 thanks to a $1 million gift from Bill Bombeck.
"This gift from Mr. Bombeck will enable the Bombeck Center to continue to develop and disseminate best practices in early childhood education," says Kevin Kelly, dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences, in a statement. "His generosity enriches our entire community."
The Bombecks' son, Matt, adds "The wonderful thing about the workshop is that our dad continued the legacy of our mom, not with an award or a plaque, but with a living, breathing conference of writers, storytellers and funny people, willing to take the risk of putting pen to paper. He saw first hand what a little inspiration and some confidence boosting can do for a writer. That's what this workshop is all about."
On her passing, fellow Dayton native Phil Donahue said of Bombeck, "We shall never see the likes of her again. She was real and she brought us down to earth — gently, generously and with brilliant humor. When the scholars gather hundreds of years from now to learn about us, they can’t know it all if they don’t read Erma."