Zaslow, a longtime Wall Street Journal writer and best-selling author, died Friday of injuries suffered in a car crash on a snowy road in northern Michigan. Zaslow had collaborated last year with then-Rep. Gabriel Giffords and husband Mark Kelly on their book, "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope." He also wrote "Highest Duty," about airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger, and authored the huge bestseller "The Last Lecture," about Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor Randy Pausch, who in 2007 was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
In a career twist, Zaslow took over the Ann Landers advice column at the Chicago Sun-Times, after he entered a competition for the position as an angle for a Journal story. From the WSJ:
In a statement Friday to the staff of the Journal, editor Robert Thomson said: "Jeff's writing, for the Journal and in his books, has been a source of inspiration for many people around the world and his journalistic life has been a source of inspiration for all journalists."
"Over the last year we got to know and appreciate the talented and caring professional that Jeff was. He was one of a kind and we feel very fortunate for the time we had with him," Mr. Kelly wrote in an email to the Journal Friday. "He touched so many lives in such a positive way. Gabby and I express our deepest condolences to his wife Sherry Margolis and their three daughters - Jordan, Alex and Eden. We will miss Jeff very much."
His latest, "The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters," is set in a Fowler, Mich., bridal store where he looked at American weddings. "I found a place with an awful lot of emotion. And I have been writing books with emotion for all these years so I was just grateful to find this place," he told an interviewer.
During the period in his career when he wrote the advice column, Mr. Zaslow received many letters from people who were lonely—which became the inspiration for the Zazz Bash, an annual party at Chicago's Navy Pier. Thousands would attend. Hot dogs and chips were piled up on tables for singles looking for love. "He got these letters from lonely people and, being Jeff, he thought he should do something. So he orchestrated this enormous party for them," said Neil Steinberg, a longtime friend of Mr. Zaslow's and a columnist at the Sun-Times.
Photo: screen grab from Wall Street Journal