Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Special Tribute to Erma Bombeck Husband Shares Some Glimpses of Their Ups, Downs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Special Tribute to Erma Bombeck Husband Shares Some Glimpses of Their Ups, Downs

Article excerpt

(Editor's note: At the behest of Universal Press Syndicate, columnist Erma Bombeck's husband of 46 years, Bill Bombeck, agreed to share the remarks he made at her private funeral service April 28.)

Dear Readers: In 1989, Erma began to experience a series of painful medical problems, but she disdained letting her readers know most of the details. She usually brushed aside rumors and inquiries with a joke and a plea that her purpose was to write humor and make people smile. Health reports are not funny. Her greatest fear was to become a "poster child" and have people feel sorry for her.

Throughout these assaults she remained unbelievably optimistic. Erma always knew that there was a pony in there someplace. Not only did the research and writing of her book "I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise" provide a nation with the heroics of kids surviving cancer, but it also helped give Erma the courage to face her many trials, including her last one.

I have met astronauts, war heroes, firefighters and police officers, but I have never known anyone with more courage than Erma. Courage has been called grace under fire. I would propose we call it Erma under fire.

Erma would not have approved of my words. But for this one time I will do what Erma admonished all who challenged her words, and that was to "go out and get your own column."

I have searched for a way to show my family's gratitude to the thousands of fans and friends who have shown so much love and compassion toward her. I'd like to share with you a personal recollection I read at the family services that were held before the funeral:

In 1947, three or four couples were outside the Lakeside Ballroom in Dayton, Ohio. We were too early to be admitted for the big-band dance, so we all wandered over to the adjoining amusement park.

Not far from the ballroom was the roller coaster. All of the boys began cajoling their dates to ride with them. The girls giggled and said no. It was too frightening, and it would mess up their hair and dresses.

I looked at my date and asked her if she wanted to go. She didn't hesitate. She said, "Sure, I'll go." I was surprised and looked at her again. She was slight, narrow-shouldered, with tiny hands and feet. But she had the greatest smile and laugh. Her smile had a charming space between her two front teeth. I thought, this is some kind of girl.

The Lakeside roller coaster was a rickety old leftover from the Depression. The frame was mostly made of unpainted 2-by-4s. No modern inspection by OSHA would have ever approved this for man's use.

The cars were linked together with what looked like modified train couplers. They were mostly red-painted wood with metal wheels and a coglike device that clicked loudly. …

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