Lilian Jackson Braun
TRYON, NC-- Lilian Jackson Braun Bettinger, a prolific best-selling author of The Cat Who mystery series for more than 40 years, died of natural causes at Hospice House of the Carolina Foothills in Landrum, SC, on June 4, 2011. She was 97 and had lived in Tryon, NC, for the past 23 years.
Ms. Braun wrote 31 books (two collections of short stories and 29 The Cat Who books).
Dutton published her first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, in 1966. The New York Times labeled her "the new detective of the year". Two more followed with critical acclaim (The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern and The Cat Who Turned On and Off). There was an 18-year hiatus between the third and fourth books.
The Cat Who novels, considered light, humorous mysteries, have been translated into 16 languages, distributed worldwide, and sold in the millions. Her books were standards on the New York Times best seller list. Beginning in 1990, her books reached the prestigious list for 20 consecutive years.
She wrote all of her books in long hand. They were published with limited editing. "I don't pay attention to the publishing business. I just write my kitty-cat stories."
Ms. Braun (who once wrote "A dog has his day, but cats have 365") retired from writing in 2007 after the publication of The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers.
Writing was a lifelong passion. "I always wrote, first for fun, then for an advertising job, then for a newspaper, and then for The Cat Who readers."
After a short stint as a waitress (lasting less than a week) Ms. Braun went to work for Detroit department stores, beginning as a copywriter and ending as the director of public relations. She took time off to write her first three books and then accepted a position as the "The Good Living" editor for the Detroit Free Press. She wrote feature articles on interior design, art and architecture, as well as reviews of kitchen gadgets and other household products. She remained with The Detroit Free Press for 30 years.
Lilian Jackson Braun Bettinger was born on June 20, 1913, in Willimansette, Chicopee Falls, MA. Her father, Charles Jackson, was an inventor and industrial manufacturing troubleshooter. Her mother, Clara Ward Jackson, was a homemaker. Her father's work took them to Rhode Island, Brooklyn, NY, and to Detroit, MI. Ms. Braun lived in Michigan until retiring to North Carolina.
In 2005 The Polk County Public Library in Columbus, NC, held a Tribute to Lilian Jackson Braun for her lifetime achievement and community involvement. It was an evening of song, limericks, readings and tributes. Ms. Braun served as the honorary writer in residence for the library as well as honorary chairperson of the 2005 library card sign-up campaign, where she created the tag line, "A library card is the beginning of a lifelong adventure."
Ms. Braun was preceded in death by husband, Louis Paul Braun; a sister, Florence Jackson; and a brother, Lloyd Jackson. She is survived by her husband of 32 years, Earl Bettinger.
No memorial services will be held. Donations may be made to Hospice House of the Carolina Foothills, 260 Fairwinds Road, Landrum, SC 29356.
Condolences may be sent to www.pettyfuneralhome. com.
Petty Funeral Home and Crematory, Landrum
Published in Spartanburg Herald-Journal from June 7 to June 8, 2011