Jeffrey Zaslow, American author and columnist, died from a car accident he was 53
Zaslow was widely known as coauthor of best-selling books including The Last Lecture (2008) with Randy Pausch; Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters with Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (2009); as well as Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope (2011) with Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. He was the sole author of numerous books, including Tell Me All About It (1990), The Girls from Ames (2009), and The Magic Room (2012).
Early life and education
Zaslow was born in 1958 in Broomall, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, one of the four children of Naomi and Harry Zaslow, a real estate investor. He attended Marple Newtown High School,
where he was student council president his senior year. He wrote for
the school paper and was in school plays while in junior high – starring
in “You Can’t Take It With You”. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon
University in 1980 with a degree in creative writing, Zaslow began his
professional writing career at the Orlando Sentinel.
Zaslow’s Wall Street Journal column, “Moving On”, as well as his numerous books, focused on life transitions.
In September 2007, after he attended the final lecture of Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch, he collaborated with Pausch on writing The Last Lecture, released in 2008. The book by Pausch and Zaslow, translated into 48 languages, was a #1 New York Times best-seller, spending more than 110 weeks on the list. Media coverage included The Oprah Winfrey Show and an ABC special hosted by Diane Sawyer. More than five million copies of the book are in print in the U.S.
The Girls from Ames is a nonfiction book about a group of eleven women friends who grew up together in Ames, Iowa,
remaining friends for forty years. It was billed by the publisher
(Gotham Books) as “the inspiring true story of eleven girls and the ten
women they became.” (www.GirlsFromAmes.com) It spent 26 weeks on the New
York Times bestseller list, rising as high as #3. Highest Duty was co-written by Zaslow with Capt. Sullenberger, who successfully ditched US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. The book debuted at #3 on the New York Times list.
In 2011, Zaslow collaborated with Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, on their memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. In January 2012, Zaslow released The Magic Room: A story about the love we wish for our daughters,
a non-fiction narrative set at a small-town Michigan bridal shop, and
looked at the lives of a handful of brides and their parents who
journeyed to the store’s “Magic Room.” (www.magicroombook.com)
Zaslow first worked at the Orlando Sentinel, as a writer for that newspaper’s Florida magazine. He then was a staff writer for the Wall Street Journal from 1983 to 1987 and columnist at the Sun-Times from 1987 to 2001.
Zaslow gained recognition as the author of an advice column called All That Zazz at the Wall Street Journal, having won a competition (with 12,000 applicants) at age 29 to replace Ann Landers at the Chicago Sun-Times.
He was twice named by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists
as best columnist in a newspaper with more than 100,000 circulation and
had received the Distinguished Column Writing Award from the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. While working at the Sun-Times, Zaslow received the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award. He appeared on such television programs as The Tonight Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, The Today Show and Good Morning America.
Zaslow married Sherry Margolis, a TV news anchor with WJBK television in Detroit, and together lived with their three daughters in West Bloomfield, Michigan. His literary agent was Gary Morris. Zaslow was an avid runner.
Zaslow died on February 10, 2012, at age 53 in a car accident on M-32 in Warner Township, Michigan while on tour for his non-fiction book The Magic Room. Former co-author Chesley Sullenberger was among those who eulogized Zaslow at his funeral on February 13.
Following his death, Zaslow was the subject of a number of written tributes, including an essay by columnist Bob Greene, titled Jeff Zaslow’s last lesson, pieces by fellow journalists and by bloggers, posts on the Wall Street Journal remembrance page, and eulogies by family members on the family’s remembrance page.
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