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In Memory: Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
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In Memory
Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
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It is with deep sorrow that we report the passing of Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.  Mr. Gilbreth died on February 18 2001 while out playing a round of golf.  He leaves us, one month shy of his 90th birthday.  
Frank is best known as the co-author of “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Belles on Their Toes,” both written with his sister, Ernestine G. Carey.  After their collaboration, he went on to write many more equally humorous books, such as “Innside Nantucket” and “Time Out for Happiness.”  When not writing books, he wrote a newspaper column, in Charleston, South Carolina, under the pseudonym of Ashley Cooper.
In his writing, Frank was not beyond spinning a tall tale, in
the best tradition of his New England roots.  He was fond of saying that while his stories weren’t necessarily the gospel truth, his version was funnier.

We will miss Frank Gilbreth, not only for his support of the Gilbreth Network, but for the many laughs he left behind for us.  Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.  (3/17/11 to 2/18/01).
(Tribute by David Ferguson, Coordinator, Gilbreth Network)

Following is the obituary published in the Charleston, NC Post & Courier, where Frank Gilbreth was writer and publisher:

Author, columnist Gilbreth dies

Ashley Cooper wrote 'Doing the Charleston'

Monday, February 19, 2001

Assistant Editor

     Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., best-selling author and long-time columnist for The Post and Courier, died Sunday. He was 89.
     Gilbreth was the retired assistant publisher of The Post and Courier and vice president of Evening Post Publishing Co., and helped direct this newspaper's growth for decades.
     He was best known locally for his column, "Doing the Charleston," which he wrote under the pen name of Ashley Cooper from the late 1940s until 1993.
     "He was a rare and wonderful individual and a superb newspaperman - as well as a purist in both the spoken and written word of the English language," said Peter Manigault, chairman of the board of Evening Post Publishing Company. "He was a good friend to all of us."
     Gilbreth was born March 17, 1911, in Plainfield, N.J., a son of Frank B. Gilbreth, a time-study expert who originated "motion study" at the turn of the century, and Lillian M. Gilbreth, who worked with her husband and went on to become a prominent educator and management consultant after his death.
     In 1949, Gilbreth and his sister, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, collaborated in writing "Cheaper by the Dozen," their story of growing up in a family of 12 children with "efficiency expert" parents.
     It was a best seller, as was its sequel, "Belles on their Toes." Both were made into movies.
     He subsequently wrote eight other books. Four of his books were listed on The New York Times best-seller list; three were condensed by Reader's Digest. In 1998 he was named to the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
     His newspaper column incorporated humor, editorial commentary and broad reader participation, and was one of the longest running columns in American newspaper history. In it, Gilbreth left an indelible mark on the Charleston community.
     He also compiled the Dictionary of Charlestonese, a pamphlet that poked fun at the Charleston accent. To date, it has sold more than 200,000 copies, the proceeds of which are donated to the newspaper's Good Cheer Fund. He also contributed articles to the op-ed page and Sunday magazine of The New York Times.
     Evening Post Publishing Company President Ivan V. Anderson Jr., whom Gilbreth convinced to leave banking for newspapers, said: "I wouldn't be in this wonderful newspaper business if it weren't for Frank. He tried to teach me how to balance business interests with journalistic integrity. This city is bereft of a hero and a man who kept us, and me, from taking ourselves too seriously."
     Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. described Gilbreth as "an extraordinary force in the Charleston community for two generations."
     "His vision of Charleston, his understanding of what Charleston could be was very profound," Mayor Riley said, adding that Gilbreth's column "was the most influential space in the newspaper."
     "He was a national literary figure and his writings have sold millions of copies. He's made millions of people laugh and cry and made their hearts warm. We were so lucky that he adopted Charleston. He made Charleston a better and finer community."
     Former Charleston Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard Jr. said: "Frank Gilbreth was without a doubt the best man for putting thoughts on paper that I have ever known. He epitomized the old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. I've lost a good friend and he will be missed by this community."
     "Heaven knows he knew this community so well," U.S. Sen. Ernest F. Hollings said. "His writing was just as if he were talking to you. He was the finest."
     Post and Courier Editor Barbara S. Williams described Gilbreth as a "consummate newsman who loved this business, this newspaper and this community."
     "No one knew better how to engage and entertain our readers. Mr. Gilbreth used his wit and his way with words to mount crusades that were of enormous benefit to this community," Williams said. "His journalistic standards were the highest and his influence on this newspaper and all those who worked with him has been immeasurable."
     Gilbreth graduated from the University of Michigan, where he served as editor of the college newspaper, The Michigan Daily. He worked as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune before moving to the news staff of The News and Courier in 1934. He subsequently went to work for The Associated Press, first in Raleigh, then in New York City.
     During World War II, he served as a naval officer in the South Pacific and participated in three invasions in the Admiralty Islands and the Philippines, and was decorated with two air medals and a bronze star. In 1947, he returned to The News and Courier as an editorial writer.
     In 1934, he married Elizabeth Cauthen of Charleston, who died in 1954. They had one child, Elizabeth G. Cantler, retired features editor of The Post and Courier.
     In 1955, he married Mary Pringle Manigault of Charleston. Their two children are Dr. Edward M. Gilbreth and Rebecca G. Herres.
     Survivors, in addition to his widow and children, include six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, all of Charleston. Also, seven brothers and sisters: Ernestine C. Carey of Reedley, Calif.; Lillian G. Johnson of Wilmington, Del.; Frederick M. Gilbreth of Larchmont, N.Y.; Daniel B. Gilbreth and John M. Gilbreth, both of West Caldwell, N.J.; Robert M. Gilbreth of Franklin, N.H., and Jane G. Heppes of Longview, Wash.
     Funeral arrangements are pending.

In addition to the obituary, the Post & Courier printed the following tribute to Frank, focusing on his regular newspaper column, which he wrote under the pen name "Ashley Cooper":

Why Charleston will remember Ashley Cooper

Tuesday, February 20, 2001
     Years ago, Lord Ashley Cooper started preparing his own epitaph:
     "Although he lived in the twentieth century, he didn't have anything to do with the invention of the atomic bomb, internal combustion engine, TV commercial, rock music or non-objective art."
     We all smiled because, of course, Ashley Cooper will be remembered for what he did, not what he didn't do.
     He made us smile. He made us think. He made us angry - but never for long. In his column here, beloved by readers, he would make fun of tourists one day and make fun of native Charlestonians the next.
     He would recount colorful stories of old Charleston one day and of present-day Charleston the next.
     He delighted us with comical slice-of-life vignettes, and he challenged us with prickly community issues.
     Ashley Cooper earned the respect and affection of thousands of readers, and when he retired from column-writing in 1993, they grieved. Many are still grieving.
     Ashley Cooper, of course, was the pen name of Frank Gilbreth Jr., who died Sunday.
     This is the spot in the paper that Mr. Gilbreth filled for more than 40 years. It seems a fitting place to pay tribute to him. And it seems the best way to pay tribute to a masterful columnist is in his own words.
     •  "I don't know about other Charlestonians, but the way I tell summer from winter is that in winter we get lots of Lincolns, Cadillacs and stuffed shirts, and in summer get lots of Chevrolets, Fords and stuffed shorts."
     •  "What we really need in Charleston are tourists who will send their money here but stay home themselves."
     •  "In a hick town they take up the sidewalks at night. In Charleston, the sidewalks are in such bad shape that if you took them up you'd never get them back down again."
     •  "Who was it who said that Charleston - our Holy City - was like a lesson in verbs? Yes, you discover the present tense and the past perfect."
     •  "A correspondent advises Lord Ashley never to ask anyone where he is from. 'If he is from Charleston, he will soon announce that fact,' alleges my correspondent. 'If he is not from Charleston, there is no need to embarrass him.' "
     •  "They say we in Charleston spend more money on liquor than we do on education. But, my goodness, what you can learn at a Charleston cocktail party!"
     •  "What is full of slime and hooey,
     Makes the stomach loop-the-loop?
     What is slippery and gluey?
     Greasy, gooey OKRA SOUP."
     •  He stirred up heated emotions over the Confederate flag (which he thought didn't belong over the Statehouse); over "y'all" and "youze guys;" and over historic preservation.
     He wrote about cockroaches and Gullah, about George Gershwin and palmettos, about slumlords and bike paths.
     His words remind us why we love Charleston and why we will long remember Frank Gilbreth, who loved it too.
    Elsa McDowell may be reached by phone at 937-5558, by fax at 937-5579. Her e-mail address is and her mailing address is 134 Columbus St., Charleston, S.C. 29403.

Following is the obituary published in the New York Times:

Frank Gilbreth Jr., Author Of 'Cheaper by the Dozen,' Dies at 89

February 20, 2001


Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr., a journalist whose life-with-father memoir
"Cheaper by the Dozen" became a best seller and a popular movie of
the same title, died on Sunday in Charleston, S.C., where he had
lived for the last 50 years. He was 89 and also had a home in
Nantucket, Mass.

 The paterfamilias of the tale was a construction engineer and
efficiency expert who originated the science of "motion study" and
believed that its factory management principles could be applied to
the household. Mr. Gilbreth's mother was an accomplished
engineering consultant in her own right who continued to operate
the family company, Gilbreth Inc., after her husband's death in
1924. She died in 1972.

 The elder Gilbreths produced six girls and six boys within 17
years. The younger Mr. Gilbreth was the eldest son, the fifth of
the dozen, and wrote the book with his older sister Ernestine
Gilbreth Carey.

 Against the backdrop of the ramshackle family mansion in
Montclair, N.J., the siblings reminisced about a life of cheerfully
controlled chaos. The children appeared to have taken in stride
"process-work charts," trips to the factory with father, weekly
family council meetings and endless I.Q. tests.

 "Cheaper by the Dozen," published in 1949, became a Book-of-the-
Month Club selection and quickly sold out. Since then, it has been
reissued in many editions, several of which remain in print.

 The movie was an Easter treat in 1950, starring Clifton Webb as
the rather eccentric father and Myrna Loy as the mother. Reviewing
the film in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther described it as a
paean to filial piety and a "blissfully comforting display of the
authority which a strongminded papa has over 12 respectful kids."

 Mr. Gilbreth and his sister wrote a sequel to their book, "Belles
on Their Toes," also made into a movie.

 Frank Gilbreth Jr. was born in Plainfield, N.J., and graduated
from the University of Michigan in 1933. He worked as a reporter
for The New York Herald Tribune, the Associated Press and The
Buenos Aires Herald and served in the Navy in the Pacific in World
War II.

 In 1947 he joined what is now The Post and Courier in Charleston
and under the pseudonym Ashley Cooper wrote its "Doing the
Charleston" column until 1993, making it one of the country's
longest-running newspaper columns. (As Charlestonians define it,
Charleston is where the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers meet to form
the Atlantic Ocean.) He was an assistant publisher and vice
president of the newspaper as well.

 Mr. Gilbreth also wrote "Held's Angels" (1952), a novel lampooning
the flappers and high-living youths of the Roaring Twenties, which
was illustrated with 100 drawings by the cartoonist John Held Jr.
His other books included "I'm a Lucky Guy" (1951); "Innside
Nantucket" (1954), about a family-run rooming house; "Of Whales and
Women: One Man's View of Nantucket History" (1957); "How to Be a
Father" (1958); "He's My Boy" (1962), about his own young son; and
"Time Out for Happiness" (1962), a biography of his parents.

 Mr. Gilbreth's first wife, Elizabeth Cauthen Gilbreth, died in
1954. He is survived by his wife, Mary Manigault Gilbreth; two
daughters, Elizabeth G. Cantler and Rebecca G. Herres, both of
Charleston; a son, Dr. Edward M. Gilbreth, also of Charleston;
three sisters, Ms. Carey of Reedley, Calif., Lillian G. Johnson of
Wilmington, Del., and Jane G. Heppes of Longview, Wash.; four
brothers, Frederick B. of Larchmont, N.Y., Daniel B. and John M. of
West Caldwell, N.J., and Robert M. of Franklin, N.H.; six
grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

 Although born a Yankee, Mr. Gilbreth became part of the proudly
insular city of Charleston, even writing a dictionary of

Associated Press obituary

'Cheaper by the Dozen' author Gilbreth dead at 89

February 19, 2001

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) -- Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., author of "Cheaper by the Dozen" and longtime columnist for The (Charleston) Post and Courier, died Sunday. He was 89.

In 1949, Gilbreth and his sister, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, collaborated in writing "Cheaper by the Dozen," the story of growing up in a family of 12 children with efficiency expert parents. It was a best seller, as was its sequel, "Belles on their Toes." Both were made into movies.

Gilbreth was well known for his column, "Doing the Charleston," which he wrote under the pen name Ashley Cooper from the late 1940s to 1993 and he held numerous newspaper positions, including working for The Associated Press, first in Raleigh, North Carolina, then in New York City.

During World War II, he served as a naval officer in the South Pacific, where he was involved in three invasions in the Admiralty Islands and the Philippines. He was awarded two air medals and a bronze star.

One of the many remembrances about Frank Gilbreth that have been received by the Gilbreth Network:

From G.A.:

I actually read "Belles on Their Toes" first. My younger sister died when
I was 13, and I was so sad that I could hardly function. Then I picked up
this wonderful book, and laughed for the first time in months!

One time when I was 15, I wrote to Frank Gilbreth, and he actually wrote
back. I still have the letter!