Billed as "the most widely syndicated newspaper columnist in the world," the Dear Abby daily advice column feature appears in 1,400 newspapers worldwide, boasting a daily readership of more than 110 million people.
She also anchors the advice page in a number of our sister newspapers as part our parent Lee Enterprises media chain, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to The Citizen in Auburn, N.Y.
Written under the Abigail Van Buren pen name by Jeanne Phillips, the advice column was founded in 1956 by her mother, Pauline "Popo" Phillips, who will celebrate her 94th birthday on July 4. (Popo's twin sister Eppie Lederer aka the late great Ann Landers of Chicago fame, died of cancer at age 83 in 2002.)
Since Jeanne and the Dear Abby column are based in Los Angeles, it's not often that we get her for a Chicago visit.
But this week, she's the keynote speaker for a great conference event open to the public.
Compassion & Choices is the leading group working hard building bridges to improve care and expand choice at the end of life through support, education and advocacy.
The 2012 conference is in Chicago starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday. Held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave. in Rosemont, Ill., the conference theme is "Heights of Compassion, Bridges to Choice" and offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with other end-of-life choice supporters, caregivers and activists.
Jeanne and her Dear Abby wit and wisdom opens the conference at 3 p.m. Thursday with her talk "The Common Sense Approach to End-Of-Life Choices" discussing the question: "Will they know what I want if I can't speak for myself?"
The conference includes a wide choice of speakers, workshops and seminars during the three days, for participants to learn about advance directives, legal end-of-life options, palliative care and aid in dying. Social workers and others can receive training credit by attending.
Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee said her organization is the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life.
She said this event is the largest gathering in the nation to connect end-of-life choice supporters, caregivers and activists, along with physicians from across the nation addressing end-of-life issues, as well as family members who will offer personal perspectives on supporting a loved one with a terminal illness. On Saturday, Coombs Lee will conclude the conference with an address on the state of the U.S. end-of-life choice movement.
Other keynote speakers for this conference include actress Megan Cole, news commentator Betty Rollin and palliative care counselor Stephen Jenkinson.
There are both daily rates available to attend to hear speakers, as well as overnight packages available and multiple day attendance options. FYI: compassionandchoices.org or (800) 247-7421.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at email@example.com or (219) 852-4327.