(CNN) -

Pauline Phillips, better known to millions of newspaper readers for decades as the "Dear Abby" advice columnist, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, her family said Thursday.

She died Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minn., at age 94.

Phillips' columns were published in an era when newspaper readers prized straight-talking, pithy advice about marriages, children, jobs -- just about anything that troubled people.

Phillips wrote under the pen name of Abigail Van Buren, shortened to "Dear Abby" in newspapers.

The first "Dear Abby" column appeared in 1956, and Phillips continued writing the advice feature until 2000, when she and daughter Jeanne began sharing the byline.

Jeanne Phillips took the column over full time in August 2002, when her family announced that Pauline Phillips had Alzheimer's.

"I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend," Jeanne Phillips said in a statement. "My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change. I will honor her memory every day by continuing this legacy."