Zaslow, co-author of the million-selling book "The Last Lecture," was also a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former advice columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Zaslow, who had an affinity for stories of heroism and resilience, worked on memoirs of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and airline pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.
"Jeff was a beautiful writer, wonderful collaborator, loving husband, father and friend," Sullenberger, who was praised for his skill after safely ditching a plane in the Hudson River in 2009, said in a written statement Friday. "Our whole family loved him dearly and he will be sorely missed."
Zaslow was killed in an accident Friday morning in Warner Township, about 160 miles northwest of Lansing, according to the Antrim County sheriff's office. Zaslow's car slid into the path of a semitrailer. He was killed on impact.
The sheriff's department did not release the name of the victim, but literary agent and friend Gary Morris confirmed Zaslow's death. Morris said he was told of Zaslow's death Friday evening by the author's wife.
Zaslow was in northern Michigan speaking about "The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters." The book, based on a Michigan bridal shop, was published in December.
"His great talent was to find stories that had heart that people could relate to," Morris said.
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Morris said Zaslow's first book was based on a 2007 column he wrote for The Wall Street Journal. "The Last Lecture" was published in 2008 and has been translated into 40 languages. It was inspired by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch's "last lecture" of his life's lessons. Pausch died in 2008 of pancreatic cancer.
"He was the most industrious and hardest working author I know," Morris said. "He never turned anything in late. He turned in the cleanest copy. It really was ethics. He was completely selfless in the writing of his own books and collaborations with others."
Zaslow was a writer for The Wall Street Journal when he was selected by the Sun-Times in 1987 to write a column to replace Ann Landers. Zaslow and Diane Crowley, daughter of the original Ann Landers, wrote side-by-side columns. Zaslow wrote the column, called "All That Zazz," until 2001.
Zaslow, a native of Philadelphia, lived in the Detroit area. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, and three daughters, Alex, Eden and Jordan.