September 2, 2019
Laura and Matt
Lee Salem, 73, of Leawood, Kan., passed away on September 2, 2019. He was born on July 21, 1946, and lived his early years in Boston, Mass., before moving to Portsmouth, N.H. Lee moved to the Kansas City area to attend and ultimately graduate from Park College, where he met the love of his life, his wife Anita Salem. He received his master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Lee served as editor and then president of Universal Press Syndicate, now called Andrews McMeel Syndication. In his nearly four decades at Universal, he is credited with editing and developing some of the iconic comic strips of our time, including Calvin and Hobbes, Cathy, Cul-de-Sac, Doonesbury, The Far Side and For Better or for Worse. Lee’s calm demeanor and steadfast defense of cartoonists’ creative rights resulted in close friendships with numerous creators. His colleagues at the syndicate benefited from his quiet leadership and integrity. In 2013, he was awarded the Silver T-Square award by the National Cartoonists Society for his contributions to the industry. His legacy flourishes through the creative works that he allowed to blossom.
Lee had many interests and a voracious appetite for knowledge. Visiting the local library became a weekly ritual, and he would often read a book each day. He had eclectic tastes, and his most recent selection from the library included novels and non-fiction books with varied topics as history, math, education and urban planning. He was an avid sports fan, supporting both local teams, along with his hometown’s own Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots (much to the chagrin of his two children). His love of music ranged from Beethoven to Bob Dylan, and he was a staunch defender of the Rolling Stones as the “greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world.”
Traveling was a passion for Lee and he was a meticulous planner of his family’s vacations. He was famous for scouting out curious off-the-road attractions and restaurants. His ventures in Europe included living for brief stints in both Florence and Barcelona with Anita.
A creature of habit, Lee was well known in his neighborhood for walking his two dogs, Rosie and Bear. He was a kind soul and friend to many, and he never shied away from someone in need. Family and friends, both old and new, were always cherished. The loss of his soft-spoken wisdom and grace will leave an empty place in many lives.
The primary focus of Lee’s life was his commitment to his wife, children and grandchildren. He took great joy in attending his grandchildren’s events, including sports, dance, music and theater. He shared his passion for reading, competitive game-playing, music, puzzles and movies with his family.
Lee is survived by his wife of 52 years, Anita; daughter Laura Salem and son-in-law Rob Schnittker; son Matt Salem and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Salem; five grandchildren, Julia, Andrew, Hadley, Allison and William; and brother Ed Callahan and wife Kathleen Callahan.
A celebration of life for Lee will be held on September 14, 2019, 10:30 a.m., at Hallbrook Country Club, 2501 W. 111th St., Leawood, Kan. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Salvation Army or the Youth Symphony of Kansas City.
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- John MacIntyreI remember not know what to say when Lee Salem first contacted me. I never could call him Lee at any point in our relationship. He was always Mr. Salem. I remember his kindness and gentleness, reaching out to a young writer in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia. See ya upstairs, Mr. Salem and my condolences to the family. John MacIntyre9/4/19
- Mike BaldwinI'm so sorry to hear of Lee's sudden passing. It was always a pleasure to work with Lee at contract time. He was a true friend of cartoonists. I had the honor of having dinner with Lee in the summer of 2007 when he was in my neck of the woods and enjoyed getting to know him a little better. My sincere condolences to Lee's family s as well as to his extended family at Andrews McMeel Syndication.9/4/19
- Elizabeth AndersenI am so sorry to learn this and send condolences to the family. Lee was my boss in editorial at Universal for more than 17 years, and he was one of the best: intelligent, knowledgeable, honest, good-natured, and caring. I learned a great deal from him and was fortunate to be on his editorial staff. I may be the only person to have had both Lee and Anita (at Rockhurst) as bosses , and I am all the better for it. Sons David and Grant send condolences as well. Lee's legacy is immense.9/3/19
- Lalo AlcarazMy family and I send our condolences, there's a lot of sad cartoonists out here. RIP/QEPD Que en paz descanse, Lee Salem9/3/19
- Rachel ColemanWords can't even begin to express how sorry I am for your loss. My family is there if you need anything. I've learned talking helps. They say as time goes on it gets "easier" and after 5 years without my dad it's not easy, it's just different. It'll be like that for you. Again I'm so sorry my friends.9/3/19
- Ron ColbrothLee and I met in the 7th grade. After we graduated from Portsmouth, NH, high school, we lost touch as often happens with friends from high school, especially when you move away as we both did.. Fortunately at our 50th high school reunion, Lee and I reconnected. We found that we had similar interests in food, wine, books, tv. In the last few year whenever Lee was in the DC area, we got together for dinner and a great evening of stories and laughs. Although we didn't see each other much, we communicated regularly. I will miss him as will his many friends and I am very grateful to have gotten to know him better these last few years. My condolences to his wife, Anita, and his children and grandchildren9/3/19
- Alex TolstoyLee was a very special person A man of humor, intelligence, compassion. A man of many friends who will be greatly missed. He never herded cats.9/3/19
- Steve MooreDear Lee: You are still here with us - your family, friends, co-workers and AMU creators. You will always be here with us. We all love you. And there is no greater legacy.9/3/19
- Patty MallettWe’re so sorry. The world’s a little sadder place without Lee in it.9/3/19
- Patty MallettWe’re so sorry. The world’s a little sadder place without Lee in it.9/3/19
- Bill BrazillI’m so very sad to read about my friend Lee (and everyone else’s friend ) passing. He was one of the kindest and wisest men I ever knew. His advice was priceless and he made the world a better place. We were exchanging messages a few weeks ago and I had great pleasure in reminding him how the Yankees’s were so much better than the Redsox’s this year. Of course he brought up the Patriots for which I had no retort. I will miss my friend.9/3/19
- Ellen SpakeAnita, Laura and Matt....the love of so many envelope you during this sad time. May you feel God’s peace and strength and may his love sustain you as you move forward. Sending prayers, love, and my deepest sympathy!9/3/19
- Barbara DaleI am so sorry, Anita, Laura and Matt. Your husband and dad was one of the most decent, supportive, insightful men I've ever had the honor to know. He stood up for artists when we really needed him. He boosted our careers. We admired him. We knew we could trust him. He was my favorite guy in this industry. Just a fine human being. No one will ever fill his shoes. Please know there are hundreds of us grieving along with you...9/3/19
- Kathy HilliardLee was a gracious, warm and wise leader and friend - with a tremendous sense of humor - respected and admired by all who knew him. He brought much joy to the world, and will be greatly missed. I am tremendously grateful to have known and worked with him. Thinking of you all at this very challenging time and sending you love and strength. Kathy9/2/19
- Donna MartinI was very sorry to hear of Lee's passing, Rex and I send our sympathy to Anita and Matt and Laura. Lee and I were among the first employees of the company, dating back to a friendly rivalry between syndicate and book company editors at Mission Bowling and, later, wiffle ball at Loose Park. He was respected by all and greatly apppreciated for his eye for talent. He will be missed.9/2/19
- Greg MelvinLee was one of the finest men I ever had the privilege of knowing. I value all of the time I got to spend with him. He was kind, smart and had a great sense of humor. He was also a great boss -- the best job I ever had. Anita, Laura and Matt: I am so sorry for your loss. I feel the loss, too.9/2/19
- Lisa TarryLee was more than a boss. He led us and educated us with his quiet integrity and his art of not sweating the small stuff. I always looked forward to seeing him and talking with him; he was a port in not a few storms over 25 years. What a great man. Anita, Laura and Matt, I am so sorry for your family’s loss, and ours. ❤️9/2/19
- Carol ShifflettDear Anita, I am so very, very sorry. My heart is with you. Laura and Matt, I’m so sorry for your loss as well and for your families’. Thank you both for keeping us appraised of the situation. The world won’t be as nice a place with Lee gone.9/2/19
- David KnightSo very sorry to hear this news -- we had a little shower this PM which I am sure is Heaven's way of showing us earth bound people the sadness of the passing of a man loved and respected by many. Karen and I both extend our love and prayers to Anita, Laura, Matt, and the rest of the family. On Lee's journey through life, he touched many lives and influenced many in the direction of their paths along life's ways. Though only briefly my life touched with Lee, I feel privileged to have met him, shared some meals with him, laughed with him, and raised a toast within the past month -- I will forever remember him as a quiet, unassuming person with a very large aura of influence where ever he was. RIP Lee -- I look forward to someday in the future when we can once again raise a glass together.9/2/19
- Linda CorsoWe share your distress, and wish there was something we could say or do that would help. I have fond memories of many a Christmas Eve that Lee and I were on "kid patrol" upstairs, while trying to get the "little ones" to go to sleep as the party continued in Aunt Ann's basement. In retrospect, those conversations were (as MasterCard says) "priceless." We send our love to all of you.9/2/19
- John McPhersonLee had a tremendous impact on my life and was always so supportive of me and my work. I am very sad that he is no longer with us, and I am so sorry for your loss, Anita, Laura and Matt.9/2/19
- Mark TatulliA Dio, Lee. We love you.9/2/19
- Kathie KerrThe whole world is a sadder place today without Lee. But, he did an incredible job making the whole world a happier place too.9/2/19