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Bill Bombeck, husband of famed Dayton writer, dies at 90

Published: Saturday, January 13, 2018 @ 3:57 PM


            Bill Bombeck, husband of famed Dayton writer Erma Bombeck. CONTRIBUTED
Bill Bombeck, husband of famed Dayton writer Erma Bombeck. CONTRIBUTED

Bill Bombeck – Dayton-born educator and widower of beloved humorist Erma Bombeck – died Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz., following a bout with pneumonia. He was 90.

“He was such a wonderful man, so giving and so fair,” said his son, Andy Bombeck. “He was the perfect match for my mom.”

» MORE ON ERMA BOMBECK: 5 quotes that will make you laugh

Erma transformed the family’s foibles and adventures into the poetry of everyday life, with her husband and children serving as the good-natured foil for much of her humor. At the height of her popularity, 900 newspapers syndicated her column to an audience of 30 million readers.

Bombeck never anticipated such worldwide fame when he married Erma Fiste at the Church of the Resurrection in Dayton in 1949. He served as a Dayton teacher, principal and administrator from 1950 until 1971.

It was, in many ways, a typical suburban life. The Bombecks raised their three children – Betsy, Andy and Matt — in a ranch house at 162 Cushwa Dr. in Centerville. In 2015, the home was named to the National Register of Historic Places — much to the family’s pride and amusement.

“We were part of a movement of young families buying affordable houses,” Bombeck told the Dayton Daily News at the time. “All our neighbors were in the same boat, with three or four kids, and Erma was no longer able to work full-time as a reporter. So that house on Cushwa Drive was the start of her career as a columnist.”

» MORE ERMA BOMBECK: 5 things to know about the beloved humorist

Andy Bombeck, a writer and retired teacher, said growing up on Cushwa Drive was the best and most exciting time of their lives: “My mom’s career was just starting to take off and we were surrounded by great neighbors and good friends. For us kids, life was simple. We always knew who, what, and where we were going to play every day. In retrospect, it was magical! No play dates, just your friends getting together and having fun or bugging our parents during the summer when we were bored.”

Born in Dayton in 1927, Bill Bombeck graduated from St. Anthony Grade School and Chaminade High School. He met his future wife while working as a copy boy for the Dayton Journal; Erma was a copy girl for the Dayton Herald. The two kept up a flourishing correspondence while Bombeck served in the Army in Korea in 1945 and 1946.

They began dating seriously when Bombeck returned from his service in World War II and both attended the University of Dayton. (Erma graduated in 1949, Bill in 1950.)

As Bill began his career as an educator, Erma started writing a column, “Operation Dustrag,” in 1952 for the Dayton Journal Herald. She stopped writing the column after the arrival of her daughter, Betsy, the following year. In 1964, she began writing a humorous column, “Zone 59,” for the Kettering-Oakwood Times. In 1965 Journal-Herald editor Glenn Thompson offered her the princely sum $50 a week for two columns. Three weeks later, her column, “At Wit’s End,” was picked up nationally by the Newsday Newspaper Syndicate.

» PHOTOS: Erma Bombeck: Adding levity to life

Published in 1967, her first book – also titled “At Wit’s End” – was the first of many best-selling collections of columns.

Erma remained humble about her meteoric rise to fame. “I was in the right place at the right time,” she often told friends.

The couple moved to Arizona in 1971, but they never forgot their roots – or their close lifelong friends – in Dayton. “Success never changed them,” friends often said. “They never changed.”

Bombeck appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America from 1975 until 1986, recording commentaries and interviews from her new home in Arizona.

Her last column appeared April 17, 1996 – five days before her death following complications from a kidney transplant.

Bombeck paid tribute to his wife in the 1996 volume “Forever, Erma,” a collection of her best-loved columns. Throughout her long illness, Erma remained “unbelievably optimistic,” Bombeck wrote. “I have met astronauts, war heroes, firefighters and police officers, but I have never met anyone with more courage than Erma.”

Teri Rizvi forged a friendship with Bombeck when she founded the Erma Bombeck Workshop in 2000.

“Bill was a gentle man filled with warmth and wonderful sense of humor,” she said. “I cherished his friendship.”

The workshop — intended as a one-time event to honor Erma’s legacy — proved so successful that it is held every other year, attracting nationally known humorists including Phil Donahue, Nancy Cartwright, Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor. The workshop invariably sells out within several hours after registration opens.

Ever since its inception, members of the Bombeck family have attended the workshop, including Bill and the couple’s children and grandchildren.

“Through the workshop, Bill helped UD nurture and sustain Erma’s legacy as one of the greatest humorists of our times,” Rizvi said. “This workshop, in Erma’s legacy, is part of Bill’s legacy, too.”

Bombeck also served as one of the honorary co-chairs of UD’s Call to Lead fundraising and image-building campaign in 2002, which received a record 56,000 gifts and raised more than $150 million. The family gave $1 million during that campaign, leading to the renaming of the child care center to the Bombeck Family Learning Center.

Bombeck is survived by his daughter Betsy of Phoenix, a contractor; his son Andy, also of Phoenix, and his wife Shari and their son Michael; and his son Matt, of Los Angeles, and his wife Jackie and daughter Eva.

Bombeck will be buried alongside Erma at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. Arrangements are pending.

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SUV hits buggy: Woman killed, husband, 2 infants critical; driver jailed in Shelby Co.

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:11 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 4:00 PM

Crash

UPDATE @ 4 p.m.

A Sidney man is facing aggravated vehicular homicide charges in connection to a fatal crash involving an SUV and horse-drawn buggy.

Steven Eugene Hunter, 42, was booked into the Shelby County Jail early this morning. He is being held without bond.

Steven Eugene Hunter(SHELBY COUNTY JAIL)

A 23-year-old woman was killed, and her husband and two infant children all remain in critical condition at hospitals in Dayton.

The Amish family who lives in the Maplewood area all were ejected from a buggy that was struck from behind just before 9 p.m. Friday on state Route 47 near Tawawa-Maplewood Road in Shelby County near the Logan County line.

(JIM NOELKER / STAFF)

UPDATE @ 11:50 p.m.

A 23-year-old woman was killed and two infants and a man critically injured Friday night after they were ejected from a buggy in an alcohol-related crash.

“The preliminary investigation indicated that the buggy was westbound, properly lit, on state Route 47. A westbound SUV struck the buggy from behind,” Lt. Tim Bender of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said of the deadly crash involving four members of a local Amish family.

>> Broken clouds for the Lyrid Meteor Shower this weekend

The crash happened just before 9 p.m. in the 22000 block of state Route 47 West near Tawawa-Maplewood Road in Shelby County near the Logan County border.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Two infants were flown by CareFlight to a Dayton hospital, and a man was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. The infants and man “are in critical condition at this time,” Bender said.

>> E. coli outbreak: CDC warns to ‘avoid all types of romaine lettuce’

None of the victims’ names have been released.

The SUV driver, whose name also has not been released, attempted to flee but his vehicle was stuck so he ran on foot, the lieutenant said.

“He was apprehended by Logan County Sheriff’s deputies about a mile from the scene,” Bender said. “It is possible the driver of the vehicle was alcohol-involved.”

The SUV driver suffered minor injuries.

“The horse (pulling the buggy) also had minor visible injuries and was taken to a farm nearby,” Bender said.

The 911 call originally went to Logan County because the crash happened so close to the county line,and both agencies are handling the crash jointly, Bender said.

The SUV driver will be cited for assured clear distance and likely will face more charges in the fatal crash.

FIRST REPORT

Crews were called tonight to a serious crash between a vehicle and buggy.

The collision was reported just before 9 p.m. in the 22000 block of state Route 47 West, near Township Road 33 North.

According to initial reports, there are at least three people injured.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office dispatch said no other information was available at this time.

Two CareFlight medical helicopters have been requested.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Family, friends provide loving tributes to Barbara Bush at funeral service

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 10:20 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 4:01 PM

VIDEO: Barbara Bush’s Funeral

Approximately 1,500 guests attended former first lady Barbara Bush's private funeral ceremony in Houston Saturday.

Barbara Bush, the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the nation’s 43rd, died Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.

About 2,500 mourners paid their respect at a public viewing held Friday in Houston, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The service took place at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Jeb Bush delivered a eulogy for his mother. Longtime friend Susan Baker and historian Jon Meacham also gave remarks during the 90-minute service. Multiple musical selections were performed.

A procession followed, with burial at the Bush Library at Texas A&M University in College Station. Barbara Bush will be buried next to her daughter, Robin, who was 3 years old when she died of leukemia in 1953, The AP reported.

Notable guests included first lady Melania Trump, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, The AP reported.

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Spring is back for the weekend; Lyrid Meteor Shower peaks overnight

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 6:38 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 2:00 PM

The chance for rain returns early next week.

Filtered sunshine, but milder for the afternoon, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said. Temperatures approach 60 degrees, which is closer to normal.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Clouds may keep us from seeing Lyrid Meteor shower tonight
  • A quiet day Sunday 
  • Chance for rain Monday - Wednesday 

>> Live Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

DETAILED FORECAST

Tonight: Partly to mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening and overnight tonight. Temperatures will drop to near 40 degrees. Because of the few clouds sticking around, it may be difficult to see the Lyrid Meteor shower overnight and early Sunday, but with a few breaks you may be able to see some.

Sunday: We’ll see a little bit more sunshine on Sunday, but once again passing clouds and filtered sun is expected, highs in the middle 60s.

>> 5-Day Forecast

Monday: A dry start is expected, but rain is expected to move in later in the afternoon and the evening. Highs will be in the middle 60s.

Tuesday: We will see mostly cloudy skies with a chance for showers, highs will drop back into the upper 50s.

>> County-by-County Weather

Wednesday: A few lingering showers are expected for the first part of Wednesday, highs will be near 60 degrees.

Thursday: Should be a dry day with partly sunny skies and highs near 60 degrees.

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Dayton says new efforts stemming crime in neighborhood where women’s bodies found

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 5:01 PM

As the city of Dayton looks for answers into the deaths of five women, residents are doing what they can to clean up a vacant and drug-infested area.

Dayton police say stepped-up patrols have led to fewer gun crimes and more drug and prostitution arrests in the North Main Street corridor where residents have long complained of rampant crime and where several women have been found dead in yards and alleys since June.

Dayton police on Friday announced that on Dec. 4, 2017 the West Patrol Operations Division assigned two patrol officers to focus their efforts along the North Main corridor.

RELATED: The deaths of five women in Dayton linked by drugs, possible foul play

“The officers work closely with other bureaus within the police department, along with neighborhood leaders and residents, to pursue crime reduction and improved public safety,” says a release from the city. “These officers have attended numerous neighborhood association meetings and forged relationships with thirteen area businesses.”

This initiative has led to a 5 percent decrease in gun crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults compared to the same period in 2017, the city says.

They have also increased arrests for drugs, prostitution, weapons and traffic citations. This includes serving eight search warrants and conducting seven underage sale of tobacco investigations along the corridor.

Residents called for months for increased attention to crime problems plaguing North Main.

RELATED: Dayton residents fed up with North Main Street crime seek help

RELATED: ‘I’ve had to learn how to use a gun:’ North Main Street business owners upset with crime

North Main’s problems were put in the spotlight last month when the Dayton Daily News featured the unsolved deaths of five women in the area and residents’ efforts to reclaim the neighborhood.

Anyone who witnesses any criminal or suspicious activity in the North Main area is asked to call 333-COPS to report it. To remain anonymous, call Miami Valley Crime Stoppers at 937-222-STOP.

More from this project:

Two drug deaths from one family. Says mom: ‘It was like living in hell’

PHOTOS: 5 women’s bodies found in Dayton as city struggles for answers

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