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Best-selling author started his career in Queens

By The Greater Astoria Historical Society

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, TimesLedger Newspapers presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history

Best-selling author, sports journalist and musician Mitch Albom was born on May 23, 1958 in Passaic, N.J. Best known for his 1997 bestseller “Tuesdays with Morrie,” which shares insights from a terminally ill college professor, Albom is also one of the premier sports writers of his generation as well as an accomplished pianist and songwriter. He has founded eight charities focused on helping the neediest in Detroit, where he currently resides. Mitch Albom began his journalistic career as a volunteer for the weekly Queens Tribune.

The future acclaimed writer grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Oaklyn, N.J., a suburb of Philadelphia. While many people spent their lives in the insular community, Albom’s parents urged their children toward broader horizons, often reminding them “Don’t expect your life to finish here. There’s a big world out there. Go out and see it.”

Following his graduation from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Albom moved to New York City and worked in the music industry. With a newfound interest in journalism, his work in Queens Tribune earned him entry into the prestigious Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and he later added an MBA from the same Ivy League school. With his journalism degree in hand, news outlets across the nation quickly took note of the talented young writer. In his first full-time position with The Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel, Albom earned the coveted Associated Press Sports Editors award in 1985. He then moved to the Detroit Free Press, where his columns on sports and his editorial commentaries on American life and values quickly gained a broad, loyal following. As a sports writer, Albom has garnered over 200 awards. The Associated Press Sports Editors have named him the best sports columnist in the nation a record 13 times.

Although Albom’s first New York Times bestselling book was a biography of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler published in 1989, his breakthrough work came eight years later in “Tuesdays with Morrie.” The book relates a series of visits with Morrie Schwartz, a college professor of the author who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. His story remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 205 weeks, selling 14 million copies in 41 languages.

The former struggling musician followed up on his 1997 success with a series of fiction books examining the human condition, the meaning of our existence and the afterlife. Among his deeply moving works are “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” “For One More Day” and “The Time Keeper,” which related the story of the inventor of the first clock, who is punished by God for trying to measure his greatest gift and must redeem himself by teaching people its true meaning.

When he is not writing, Mitch Albom devotes his time to charity, including efforts to promote literacy. He raised money for this worthy cause by performing with The Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock-and-roll band made up of writers including Albom, Stephen King, Amy Tan and Matt Groening.

Notable quote: “Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit their website at www.astorialic.org.

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