Elaine Fantle Shimberg was born in Yankton, South Dakota on February 26, 1937. When she was three, her family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, a town of 27,000 with thirty-two Jewish families. Her memoir, Growing Up Jewish in Small Town America, documents her life there. When she was sixteen, in the last half of her junior year of high school, her family moved to Sioux City, Iowa and Elaine graduated from Sioux City Central High School in January, 1955. She went to Northwestern University, majoring in radio/television in the School of Speech and graduated in June 1958.

Shortly thereafter, Elaine moved to Tampa, Florida and worked at WFLA, the local NBC station, writing radio commercials. In 1961, she married Mandell “Hinks” Shimberg and began her freelance writing career and family. They had five children in an eight year span, two girls and three boys.

In the beginning, Elaine wrote feature articles for her local newspaper. Some were humorous, making fun of her housekeeping ability and her struggles with weight loss, while others were based on her children  (but never by name) as they went to camp, cooked, or played sports. She then moved on to a variety of magazine articles for Seventeen, Woman’s Day, Highlights for Children, Glamour, Ladycom,  and Men’s Health. Often the subjects were on medical issues such as hemophilia, cancer, heart disease, and Tourette Syndrome. It was then that Elaine realized she had a knack for writing about health issues in lay language.

Her first book was How to Be a Successful Housewife/Writer published by Writer’s Digest Books in 1979 and also translated into Japanese.  She co-authored other books on women’s issues. In 1989, her first health oriented book, Relief from IBS was published by M. Evans. It was one of the first lay books on the subject of irritable bowel syndrome and was also translated into German. A later book, Another Chance for Love: Finding a Partner Later in Life was co-authored with the late Sol Gordon, Ph.D. and published by Adams Media. It was translated into both Hebrew and Spanish. Other best-selling books included How to Get Out of the Hospital Alive, published by Macmillan, alternate selection of Literary Guild; Gifts of Time, about the late pediatric neurosurgeon, Fred Epstein, published by William Morrow & Company, condensed  in Reader’s Digest and translated into German ; Living with Tourette Syndrome, published by Simon & Schuster;  and Blending Families, published by Berkley.

Elaine is a popular guest on radio and has appeared on numerous local and national talk shows, including the “Today” show and Oprah’s “AM Chicago” television show in the 80s. She has conducted writing workshops and has been a speaker at many medical conferences. She reviews books for the pediatric website, Kidsgrowth.com and was the first lay person to serve on the Florida Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. She is past chairman of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and is chair of the St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation. Her other organizations include:

  • American Society of Journalists and Authors
  • Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
  • American Medical Writers Association
  • President of the Florida Chapter of the American Medical Writers Association, 1995-1997
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Board of Trustees (Tampa, FL) 2003-present. Chairman 2003-2004
  • National Board of the Tourette Syndrome Association, 1994-1997
  • Florida Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, 1993-2005 (first lay member of this board).
  • Hillsborough County Medical Association's Grievance Committee, 1991-1992 and 2003-2005
  • American Cancer Society, Florida Public Information Committee, 1974-1989
  • Board of Directors of United Way, 1986-1989
  • Community representative to the University of South Florida Medical School Self-Study Committee, 1989

Elaine and her husband, “Hinks,” are the parents of five adult children and grandparents to ten grandchildren. The Shimbergs live in Tampa, Florida and spend their summers in Maine.

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