Gladys Bourdain was a longtime copy editor at the New York Times.

By Ana Calderone
January 14, 2020 05:09 PM

Anthony Bourdain’s mother, Gladys, died on Friday, according to the New York Times. She was 85.

The late chef‘s brother, Christopher, confirmed the news to the Times, where Gladys worked for 24 years as a copy editor from 1984 until 2008. She was at a hospice facility in the Bronx at the time of her death and had been sick for a long time, he said.

Tributes from her former coworkers have been shared since news of her death broke, as well as from strangers, who thanked Gladys for sharing her son with the world.

“I sat near Gladys for several years on the Metro Copy Desk, and she always made sure we ordered good takeout,” editor Patrick LaForge wrote on Twitter.

“Gladys Bourdain was a tough copy editor and I was always incredibly grateful for her careful and pointed questions about my stories. RIP,” added Times alum Lydia Polgreen.

RELATED: Anthony Bourdain’s Mother Says She Last Spoke to the Late Chef Was on Mother’s Day

The Times obituary recounts the story of how Gladys helped Anthony get his article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” — which almost immediately lead to a deal for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential and eventually launched his career in television — published in The New Yorker in 1999. At the risk of sounding like a “pushy mom,” she asked Times reporter Esther Fein if she would pass her son’s essay on to her husband, editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick.

“She came over, and she said, ‘You know, your husband’s got this new job,’” Fein told the Times. “‘I hate to sound like a pushy mom, but I’m telling you this with my editor’s hat on, not my mother’s hat on. It’s really good, and it’s really interesting, but nobody will look at it, nobody will call him back or give it a second look. Could you put it in your husband’s hands?’”

Harper Perennial

Gladys, who separated from her husband Pierre before his death in 1987, is survived by Christopher and three grandchildren.

Anthony had what he described as a “pretty normal” family: “We all ate together,” he told PEOPLE in 2016. “I found it kind of oppressive, actually. I envied the broken homes of my friends because they were left alone to misbehave unsupervised.”

“My mom was a very driven person,” he added of Gladys.

After Anthony died by suicide on June 8, 2018, Gladys remembered her son to Today as “feisty and very talented,” and a “lover of people of all kinds.”

“He didn’t disguise anything,” she said. “He was who he was, and it was out there for everyone to see.”

In the month that followed, she revealed to the Times that she planned to commemorate him by getting “Tony” tattooed in small letters on the inside of her wrist by his longtime tattoo artist. It would be her first and only tattoo.

RELATED: Get a First Look at the Travel Guide Anthony Bourdain Started Writing Before His Death

Anthony’s legacy continues to live on in his work. On Tuesday, PEOPLE announced that the travel guide he started writing with his longtime assistant and co-author Laurie Woolever would be published this fall. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide will be released Oct. 13.

“This book will allow Tony’s fans and followers to continue to travel in his footsteps,” said Woolever in the release. “It’s been my honor and pleasure to create a book that includes stories from his loved ones and colleagues. I was lucky to work closely with Tony for nearly a decade, and I’m so pleased to be able to share his reflections and insights about the world, as he saw it, in this guide.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Advertisement