Dear Abby had local ties to the Chippewa Valley - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dear Abby had local ties to the Chippewa Valley


Eau Claire (WQOW) - You may not know her by the name Pauline Friedman Phillips, but Dear Abby probably rings a bell.

She died this week in Minneapolis.

Millions of people followed her advice column for years.  Eau Claire held a special place in her heart.

"Did you read Dear Abby today?  What did you think of what she had to say?" says Psychology Professor Helen Swanson at UW Stout.

The crossword, comics and yes Dear Abby are a daily read for many people.

"Dear Abby was seen as sort of the ultimate family member who would give their best advice possible for them to consider," says Swanson.

But it wasn't always that way.

"In the 50's too, for the field of psychology it wasn't really professional to be a pop psychologist," says Swanson.

A journalism and psychology major, Phillips followed her passion and helped readers through problems in their lives.

"It opened the door to conversations about things that people might not otherwise be talking about," says Swanson.

This talent may be credited to her upbringing, part of which was a spell in Eau Claire from 1944-1955. She married a member of the Phillips family, which owned Presto Industries.

"She was raised in the Midwest.  Those Midwestern values seem to appeal to people no matter where in the country and even internationally," says Swanson.

Those values were especially apparent when she received letters from people who were going through very hard times.

"She actually wrote to them or called them on the phone sometimes personally to address their issues," says Swanson.

Whether you've used her advice or not, there's still one lesson left in her legacy.

"So much of her success comes from being open minded," says Swanson.

Pauline suffered from Alzheimer's disease later in life and handed over control of the Dear Abby column to her daughter in 2002.

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