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Co-founder of major Kansas City press syndicate dies, leaves behind impressive pop culture legacy

Posted at 4:19 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 17:19:50-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — John P. McMeel was co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Kansas City business Andrews McMeel Universal (AMU), formerly the Universal Press Syndicate. The name may not be familiar, but the company’s products undoubtedly are.

McMeel’s company published iconic comics like Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield, as well as new hits like the poetry book Milk and Honey.

Other successful publications include Doonesbury, Cathy and Ziggy.

McMeel passed away on July 7 at age 85. Though he was not a Kansas City native, according to an obituary released by his company, he was proud to have rooted a successful business in the city.

“A vocal and involved supporter of Kansas City, John was extremely proud that AMU flourished in the Midwest in general, and in this city in particular,” the article said.

McMeel was involved in Kansas City in more ways than one. He was a member on the boards of several Kansas City institutions, among them the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, the journalism school of the University of Kansas and St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation.

In his life, he received many awards for his charity and contributions to business, including one for entrepreneurship in community service from the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Business. He was also named one of the 50 most influential people in Kansas City by Ingram’s Magazine in 1994.

Though his legacy in Kansas City, as well as the greater Midwest is significant, his obituary states that his true joy was found in family.

“Although John delighted in an exhilarating career, his greatest joy was time spent with his family.”