(NBC NEWS) Pauline Phillips, the original “Dear Abby” advice columnist, died Wednesday at the age of 94 after a decade-long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Phillips wrote the most widely syndicated column in the world — published in more than 1,200 newspapers and read by nearly 9 million people daily — under the pen name Abigail Van Buren for four decades.

In 1956, the 37-year-old housewife became a journalist, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle and, soon after, for newspapers across the country. Phillips gave advice to men and women alike, championing equal rights for women, minorities, mentally ill individuals and those suffering from disease in her column and beyond.

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