GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - Wade Allen, a reporter for the Gaston Gazette, is used hearing and writing about bad news. But the news Monday of Phyllis Diller’s death hit him personally.
“I loved her humor growing up. I used to stay up late and watch her,” Allen said.
He loved her so much that 10 years ago, he wrote her a letter and she wrote back.
“I wrote her back and she wrote me back, and talked ever since. That was about 10 years ago,” Allen said.
For the past decade, they exchanged letters, pictures and stories. He started off as a fan, but over time became a friend.
Then, this past May, Diller invited Allen to her home in Los Angeles.
“Here she came, with a crazy outfit, wig and whistle around her neck,” he said. “She made fun of my accent. We laughed and laughed and laughed.”
They talked and laughed for 30 minutes -- a memory Allen cherishes even more after her death on Monday.
“It’s hard for me to be sad,” Allen said. “She would not want me to be. She would want to find some way to laugh about this.”
Allen said the laughter can live on through Diller’s work -- her crazy hair, boa and cigarette holder -- the way Allen will always remember her.
“I’m going to miss her,” he said. “She was the last of her kind.”