Beloved Oregon children's author Beverly Cleary died Friday, March 26. She was 104.
Cleary's publisher, HarperCollins Children's Books, announced her death. Cleary had lived in Carmel, California, since the 1960s.
HarperCollins Children's Books President and Publisher Suzanne Murphy said the company was saddened by her death. The company felt "extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit," Murphy said in a statement.
"Looking back, she'd often say, 'I've had a lucky life,' and generations of children count themselves lucky, too — lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years," Murphy said. "Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges and triumphs that are part of every childhood."
Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville. She grew up on her family's farm in Yamhill. Her mother, Mable Atlee Bunn, had a library for the small town in a lodge room upstairs over a bank. The family moved to Portland where Beverly attended elementary and secondary schools.
Cleary's first book, "Henry Huggins," was published in 1950. She has published more than 40 books. Her books have sold more than 85 million copies and have been translated into 29 languages.
Oregon lawmakers are poised to honor Cleary. House Concurrent Resolution 30, introduced March 21 by state Reps. Ron Noble of McMinnville and Zach Hudson of East Multnomah County and state Sen. Michael Dembrow of Portland, recognizes and honors Cleary for her "lifetime achievements in literature and her contributions to Oregon culture."
According to the resolution, Cleary's work "brought joy to tens of millions of readers around the world for generations and earned her unique and lasting distinction in Oregon history and culture." The resolution also was intended to congratulate Cleary on her 105th birthday and "wish her health and happiness."
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said that Northeast Portland was filled with reminders of Cleary's work and impact on readers. "While we mourn this iconic Oregonian's passing, we also are thankful for her timeless contribution to kids' literature," Wyden tweeted Friday afternoon.
Grant Park here in NE Portland has many wonderful reminders of how Beverly Cleary drew from her childhood home to capture young readersâ€™ hearts & minds. While we mourn this iconic Oregonianâ€™s passing, we also are thankful for her timeless contribution to kidsâ€™ literature. pic.twitter.com/BHjyL6XECi— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) March 26, 2021
Cleary's birthday is recognized each year around the world as Drop Everything and Read Day (DEAR Day).
Among the honors Cleary's work has earned are the 1975 American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Catholic Library Association's 1980 Regina Medal and the University of Southern Mississippi's 1982 Silver Medallion. In 2000, Cleary was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. She also was awarded the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2010, Cleary received the Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award, marking the first time the honor has given to a children's author.
In 2009, her Ramona Quimby series was made into a movie, "Ramona and Beezus."
Cleary is survived by her children, Malcolm and Marianne, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband of 64 years, Clarence T. Cleary, died in 2004.
Donations may be made in Beverly Cleary's name to the Library Foundation of Portland, or the Information School at the University of Washington.
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