Kathleen Andrews – RIP

Universal Press Syndicate co-founder Kathleen Andrews has passed away.

Kathleen Whalen (Kathy) Andrews
March 12, 1037 – April 16, 2021


Kathy was there in the beginning:

In 1970, Andrews McMeel Universal was founded as Universal Press Syndicate by Jim Andrews and John McMeel.

With an impressive company name and energetic young owners, Universal Press Syndicate began in a rented house in Leawood, Kansas—where Kathleen Andrews, as the financial officer, pored over spreadsheets on the couple’s dining-room table while, upstairs, Jim Andrews, was the editorial department—and in a one-room office on Fifth Avenue in New York City where John and Susan McMeel were the syndicate’s sales and marketing division.

© Ziggy and Friends

From the Ziggy Wikipedia entry:

Ziggy eventually appeared in an American Greetings gift book, When You’re Not Around (1968) which caught the eye of Kathleen Andrews, a founder of the fledgling startup Universal Press Syndicate, which badly needed a popular comic to keep it afloat. A deal was struck, a name was given and Ziggy was born. The strip began in 15 newspapers in June 1971, and that number eventually grew to over 600 publications.

Garry Trudeau talks about Kathy:

“Kathy was the indispensable Mom in the Mom-and-Pop basement operation that drew young creators to Leawood, Kansas,” said Garry Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury. “Success seemed unlikely, so it took someone with a sharp, critical financial eye to make it probable. Kathy’s mastery of spreadsheets kept the lights on; her warmth and graciousness kept her visitors charmed and reassured — then and for years to come. All of us will miss her greatly.”

1971 ad from Editor & Publisher

From Andrews McMeel Universal tribute:

After the company’s first few years, she paused her full-time involvement to care for her two young sons, Hugh and Jim, although she remained closely tied to its operations.

That ongoing tie to UPS operations would be famously shown with Cathy:

“My career as a cartoonist began at Kathy Andrews’ kitchen table the night her husband, Jim, brought my submission home and asked her if she thought it was sellable,” said Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip Cathy. “The blessing she gave my work that night launched my comic strip. Her great, generous heart helped hold me together in the beginning years. Her devotion to her own family and to the corporate family she helped wrap around all of us lucky enough to be with Universal Press Syndicate (now AMU) helped sustain me for all the years that followed. She was a rock of security, a trusted sounding board, and a dear friend. I will be always be grateful to Kathy for being such a great role model of strength, integrity and humor, and for the wonderful life my family and I had because of her belief in me.”

first Cathy comic strip from 1976 © Cathy Guisewite

Kathleen would soon return to the executive offices of the company becoming Vice Chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal and CEO of Andrews McMeel Publishing.

After Jim’s untimely death at the age of 44 in 1980, Kathleen returned to the company she helped create. With characteristic strength, determination, and an enduring and droll sense of humor, she worked diligently with McMeel to grow the company into the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world and a renowned publishing powerhouse, Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP), serving as chief executive officer of AMP. Although she retired in 2006, her presence remains in AMU’s culture and heritage.

Andrews McMeel Universal Remembers.