Florence Parry Heide
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|Florence Parry Heide|
|Born||Florence Fisher Parry
February 27, 1919
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
|Died||October 23, 2011(aged 92)|
|Pen name||Alex B. Allen (jointly with different co-authors)|
Florence Parry Heide (February 27, 1919 – October 23, 2011) was a bestselling American children's writer. Born in Pittsburgh and spending most of her childhood in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, she studied at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. After two years, she transferred to UCLA and graduated in 1939. She worked in advertising and public relations in New York City before returning to Pittsburgh during World War II and became publicity director of The Pittsburgh Playhouse. She met her husband, Capt. Donald C. Heide, in October, 1943. They married six weeks later, on November 27, 1943.
After the war ended, she and her husband moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He began a private law practice where he worked until his retirement in 1982. She devoted herself to her children and began her career as a children's author during the 1960s while they were still at home. Her first book, Maximilian, was published in 1967. She has since published more than 100 books for children and youth – from picture books to adolescent novels – and several collections of poetry. She also collaborated with Sylvia Van Clief to write a number of songs. Her best-known works are a series of story books about the curious adventures of a boy named Treehorn, which includes the titles The Shrinking of Treehorn (1971), Treehorn's Treasure (1981) and Treehorn’s Wish (1986), all of which Edward Gorey illustrated. She also worked with renowned illustrators Jules Feiffer and Lane Smith and won numerous awards for her work. She was the mother of five children, including authors Judith Heide Gilliland and Roxanne Heide Pierce, with whom she co-wrote several other critically acclaimed books. She had seven grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren.
Heide was well known in Kenosha for the Fourth of July parade she organized each year: Hundreds of children with their bikes decorated would gather outside her home and ride twice around her block to the beat of a drum. The parade continues each year in her honor. According to her hometown newspaper, The Kenosha News, family members confirmed that Heide died in her sleep overnight on October 23, 2011.
Under the pen name Alex B. Allen, Heide and at least two co-authors contributed texts to the illustrated Springboard sports series published by Albert Whitman of Chicago. The Library of Congress online catalog lists four titles 1972 to 1974 written with Sylvia Van Clief and one published 1975 that was written with David Heide.