We celebrate Erma’s life.

Erma Bombeck graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949 with a degree in English and never forgot that she got her start as a writer at UD. For three decades, she celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary and chronicled life’s absurdities in a syndicated column carried by 900 newspapers at the peak of her popularity. She died of kidney disease in 1996.

Erma with Father Roesch
Erma Bombeck at the University of Dayton 1981 Commencement. She was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Erma credited the University of Dayton with preparing her for life and work, for making her believe she could write. She gave back to her alma mater in numerous ways. She served on the board of trustees from 1984 to 1987; co-chaired with her husband, Bill Bombeck, the National Alumni Challenge Campaign during the University’s capital campaign in the 1980s; spoke at events on campus, including a writers’ workshop; and participated in advertising and direct-mail campaigns to help broaden the University’s image and recruit students. In 1981, she received an honorary doctorate from UD, and she was named an honorary trustee in 1988. Today, the University of Dayton holds the biennial Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in her honor.

This website compiles some of Erma’s work and artifacts. Lynn Hutner Colwell, author of Erma Bombeck: Writer and Humorist, has generously donated the rights for the University of Dayton to use biographical excerpts from her book on this site. Published in 1992, the book is the only authorized biography of Erma Bombeck’s life.

The material featured is cared for by the Bombeck family, the University of Dayton Archives and Special Collections or Wright State University Special Collections and Archives. It was created as a capstone project for Heather Webb, graduate student at Wright State University, and updated by Madeleine Eiting, an intern for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

The estate of Erma Bombeck holds the copyright to the material. No material from this Web site may be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted or distributed in any way without prior permission. The collection can be found in the University of Dayton Archives, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-1360.