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Pauline Phillips, longtime Dear Abby advice columnist, dies at 94

By Michael Martinez, CNN
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "There is always an answer, even if it's...you can't change anybody but yourself," she said
  • Pauline Phillips was author of the Dear Abby column for decades
  • She used the pen name Abigail Van Buren
  • In 2002, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease

(CNN) -- Pauline Phillips, better known to millions of newspaper readers as the original Dear Abby advice columnist, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease, her family said Thursday.

She died Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at age 94.

Phillips' columns were published in an era when newspaper readers began to prize straight-talking, pithy advice about marriages, children, jobs -- just about anything that troubled people.

Phillips wrote under the pen name of Abigail Van Buren, shortened to "Dear Abby" in newspapers. "Abigail" was taken from the wise woman in the Old Testament and "Van Buren" was one of her favorite presidents.

The first Dear Abby column appeared in 1956, and Phillips solely wrote the advice feature until 2000, when she and daughter Jeanne began sharing the byline.

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