We share the loss...

Charles Schulz's usual table sits reserved for him in the Warm Puppy Coffee Shop at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa,
as fans leave flowers and a hockey stick outside on Sunday, February 13, 2000. (AP photo/Max Whittaker)

United in sorrow (page 2)

Beloved "Peanuts" Creator Is Mourned Worldwide

Obituary: Influential cartoonist Charles M. Schulz dies at home the night before farewell strip appears.

February 14, 2000

By Renee Tawa
The Los Angeles Times

The Last Peanuts Strip

The death of Charles M. Schulz, whose anxious and joyful heart infused the world's most influential comic strip, dovetailed with the publication of his last original "Peanuts" on Sunday -- the way he might have scripted it. A master storyteller to the end, Schulz's goodbye message to more than 355 million daily readers worldwide became his own epitaph.

On Friday, Schulz, 77, had a last skate around the ice rink he owns and died in his sleep about 9:45 p.m. Saturday at home in Santa Rosa, with his wife, Jeannie, by his side. In December, after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Schulz announced that he would no longer draw "Peanuts," the most widely read comic strip in history. At the request of his five grown children, his syndicate contract stipulates that no other cartoonist draw it.

Son Monte Schulz said doctors gave his father another six or seven months. But his dad was drained by the chemotherapy and the effects of strokes that left him partially blind in one eye and unable to read or draw.

"He felt old at 77," said Monte, 48. "He had already lived to an older age than either of his parents, and he felt like it was his time to go."

The last daily "Peanuts" ran Jan. 3; previous "Peanuts" strips will run indefinitely (starting with strips he drew in 1974, a time when Schulz was at his peak and newer characters -- like Peppermint Patty and Woodstock--joined the cast).

"I think in a lot of ways, this is probably what he wanted -- once the strip was over, he sort of figured that was that," said Amy Lago, executive editor at United Feature Syndicate.

Said his friend, cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, the creator of "Mutts": "`Peanuts' was so much him. ... I think the two of them were so inter-twined that in sort of a strange little way, it's fate."

Sunday was officially Charles "Sparky" Schulz Day in St. Paul, his hometown -- a tribute that had been planned before his death. In Santa Rosa, his Redwood Empire Ice Arena was closed for the day, its flag at half-staff. Fans left piles of flowers outside the Warm Puppy snack shop, where Schulz began most mornings with coffee and an English muffin with grape jelly before walking to his studio.

"He was a master of timing in every way," said Hank Ketchum, creator of "Dennis the Menace." "He named his deadline for quitting his column ... made the deadline ... and then left. His was an amazing life and career, and he will be sorely missed."

By Sunday morning, a Web site by the National Cartoonists Society's president had posted the news, with a cartoon of Snoopy weeping.

Widespread Influence

"Peanuts" touched nerves and reached intimate spaces in a way no comic strip ever had: It provoked an Italian Communist newspaper ("[Lucy] is a Fascist"); was featured in exhibits at the Smithsonian and the Louvre; and spun catch phrases ("security blanket," "good grief," "a Charlie Brown Christmas tree"). Snoopy emerged as an enduring 20th century icon, etched on children's tombstones and stenciled on the helmets of U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam.

The cartoonist who inspired such whimsy and pathos was a loner. But Schulz made the world seem a little less lonely, with characters that people knew or saw in themselves -- woeful Charlie Brown, crabby Lucy, fanciful Snoopy, sage Linus.

"Peanuts," which was published in more than 2,600 newspapers and 75 countries worldwide, was his place.

"All of my fears, my anxieties, my joys, and almost, even all of my experiences go into that strip," Schulz told "60 Minutes" in October.

Schulz cried when he decided to give up the comic strip. Tributes poured in, from President Clinton to The New Yorker magazine to Walter Cronkite just last Friday in the CBS-TV special, "Good Grief, Charlie Brown: A Tribute to Charles Schulz" (which Schulz reportedly watched).

"It's ironic in a way," said cartoonist Lynn Johnston, a close friend, "that all of his life, he has just wanted to be liked and at a time in his life when everyone in the world was saying, `I like you, I care for you...,' he really couldn't see it."

Instead, in the hospital, he was Charlie Brown-like flabbergasted at his bad luck, having over the years weathered strokes, emergency abdominal surgery, a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. How could he get so sick when he was active, didn't smoke, drank no more than half a glass of wine at dinner and minded his own business?

"We were talking about schoolyard bullies," said Johnston, creator of "For Better or For Worse." "And he was saying `It's not fair. Here I am, sitting on the bench, having my lunch, and you come over and bop me on the head with a rock.' "

After 49 years of producing a daily comic strip, Schulz still talked about the joy of drawing a perfect pen line, of getting the depth and roundness to Linus just so. He drew each strip himself, and animation critics praised his groundbreaking style -- his graceful drawing, the richness of his characters. Schulz despaired that he could not do it better.

He would have marked the 50th anniversary of "Peanuts" on Oct. 2.

Poor Charlie Brown, Schulz told interviewers. He never gets to kick the football.

Schulz was also a grandfather, philanthropist and World War II veteran; he was a homebody who struggled with depression and agoraphobia. Friends say he adored his five kids, played hockey to win and liked to sit at home in an old blue leather chair with his dog on his lap and eat fish and chips and watch "Jeopardy."

He once told a reporter that he wants to be remembered in the way E.B. White spoke of humorist James Thurber: " `He wrote the way a child skips rope, and the way a mouse waltzes.' "

A public memorial service is expected to be announced in the next few days. Meanwhile, in lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be sent to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, 202 E. Main St., Bedford, VA 24523; (800) 351-DDAY. The money is expected to be earmarked for a gallery of World War II comic strips named after Schulz's friend, Bill Mauldin.

On Sunday, Mauldin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who chronicled World War II, said: "I am totally wiped out by this."

From Humble Start to Huge Paychecks

His first paycheck was $32.

Forbes magazine put Schulz's 1995-96 earnings at $33 million -- No. 30 on its list of the world's top-paid celebrities, just ahead of Bill Cosby. Schulz won five Emmys and arts awards from the French and Italian ministries of culture. In Japan, where "Peanuts" is a serious pastime and industry, the official translator of the comic strip is the country's poet laureate. "Peanuts" turned up on bedsheets, in Broadway musicals, as eBay.com collectibles (in December, bidding for a signed Charlie Brown children's dictionary closed at $10,100).

Yet, despite this overwhelming success, Schulz still believed what he drew -- that happiness is simple: supper, a soaring kite, jumping in a pile of leaves. He could write "happiness is a warm puppy" and was guileless enough to get away with it. His worst obscenity really was "Good grief."

What made "Peanuts" real was the way that Schulz hung his own raw psyche out for public viewing. He saw himself as the boy whose artwork was rejected for the high school yearbook, the loser who really was rejected by a little red-haired girl (Charlie Brown's unrequited love). "I was a bland, stupid-looking kid who started off badly and failed everything..." he once told a reporter.

He was an only child, born Nov. 26, 1922, to Carl and Dena Schulz. He grew up in St. Paul in an apartment above his father's barbershop (Charlie Brown's father was a barber too). All of his life, people called him "Sparky," a nickname based on a character in the "Barney Google" comic strip.

As a boy, Schulz used to peer through the windows of the St. Paul Pioneer Press building, watching the Sunday funnies roll off the presses. He and his dad read the Sunday comics from four newspapers and worried about the characters together. At age 6, Schulz decided that he would be a cartoonist when he grew up.

His parents encouraged his drawing talents. In high school, he took a correspondence course for artists and got a C+ in one subject: drawing children. At St. Paul's Central High School, he flunked English and several other classes. He was too shy to ask girls out.

After high school, Schulz was hit hard: His mother died of cancer, before he sold any of his cartoons, and that year, in 1943, he was drafted into the Army.

Schulz was an infantryman, staff sergeant and leader of a machine gun squad, traveling throughout France and Germany. His father wrote him every day. Fifty years later, Schulz drew his first comic strip commemorating D-day -- June 6, 1944 -- with Snoopy in the part of a helmeted soldier making his way to shore.

"He is a man of real American core values," said his friend Karen Kresge. "He grew up as part of the World War II generation. It is who he is. He believes in God and country and mom and apple pie."

After the war, Schulz went home to St. Paul and took a job lettering comic strips for Timeless Topix, a series of Catholic comic magazines. He also worked as a teacher at the Minneapolis art school from which he had taken his first cartooning classes.

Crushed by the Real Red-Haired Girl

Back then, in the late '40s, Schulz "liked to have his bowl of soup and draw his comic strip," said Linus Maurer, a fellow instructor at Art Instruction Schools, Inc. and longtime friend. "Nothing changed. Everything around him changed."

Schulz named "Peanuts" characters after Maurer and other friends from the school, including instructor Charlie Brown and Donna Johnson Wold, the inspiration for the little red-haired girl in "Peanuts." Schulz would scribble drawings on her desk calendar at the school, where she worked in accounting.

Wold ended up marrying someone else, whom she is still with. Schulz never got over the blow.

When they dated, Wold thought of Schulz as a nice, funny guy but never dreamed that he would hit it big. She didn't want "Peanuts" to end the way it did.

"I'd like to see [Charlie Brown] kick that football," said Wold, who lives in Minneapolis. "And if he gets the little red-haired girl, that's fine with me."

Wold saved every "Peanuts" strip featuring the little red-haired girl in a bundle now held together with worn rubber bands.

After Wold's rejection, Schulz met Joyce Halvorsen, a co-worker's sister at the school, whom he eventually married.

Meanwhile, at a friend's urging, Schulz focused on drawing cartoons featuring little kids. In 1947, the Pioneer Press bought his weekly cartoon, "Li'l Folks." From 1948 to '50, he sold 15 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post.

In spring 1950, Schulz took a new comic strip he had been working on to United Feature Syndicate in New York City. The syndicate bought the strip and dubbed it "Peanuts," saying it was a catchy name. But Schulz always hated the name. "It was undignified, inappropriate and confusing," he said, and no one ever called small children "peanuts." On Oct. 2, 1950, "Peanuts" made its debut in seven newspapers and was a hit, with timeless characters who captured the human condition -- ones who pushed on no matter what.

Schulz thought his own face was forgettable, so he gave Charlie Brown a round, ordinary face.

"I worry about almost all there is in life to worry about," Schulz wrote in his last book, "Peanuts: A Golden Celebration," published in 1999 as an early salute to the comic strip's 50th anniversary. "And because I worry, Charlie Brown has to worry."

He based Snoopy on his childhood dog, a black-and-white mutt named Spike. By 1960, Snoopy, who started off as a sidekick, had his own thought bubbles and walked on his hind legs.

Schulz got many of his early ideas from his own children. In the mid-'50s, inspired by the sight of his first three kids dragging blankets around the house, Schulz dreamed up what he later would say was the best idea he ever had -- a "security blanket" for Linus. Once, when he hushed his daughter Amy at the breakfast table, she picked up a slice of bread and said: "Am I buttering too loud for you?" -- the line later made it into the strip.

He introduced Lucy into the strip in 1952. That fall, in what would be a running gag, she snatches the football away before Charlie Brown can kick it.

His images took on a life of their own: Snoopy and the Red Baron. Lucy and her 5-cent psychiatry booth. Pig Pen and his puff of dirt.

Said cartoonist McDonnell, who picked the strips for the 50th anniversary book: "Before him, the comic strips were mostly gags. He gets his soul on the paper."

"He deals with real human emotions and just has the magic to convey that to paper," said McDonnell. "His characters are alive. He knows how to put life in them."

Unlike most other daily cartoonists, Schulz did all of his own drawing, inking, lettering and story lines. He worked six weeks ahead of schedule and sometimes, like on the D-Day strip, he started thinking a year ahead.

Schulz's influence on cartooning is unmistakable -- stylistically, narratively and rhythmically, wrote "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau in a December 1999 tribute for the Washington Post.

" `Peanuts' was the first (and still the best) postmodern comic strip," Trudeau wrote. "Everything about it was different. The drawing was graphically austere but beautifully nuanced. It was populated with complicated, neurotic characters speaking smart, haiku-perfect dialogue."

By the mid-to-late '60s, "Peanuts" had become a mass media phenomenon. In 1965, the animated TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" began its run as a holiday classic, with its hip jazz score by Vince Guaraldi.

"Peanuts" was featured in more than 50 animated TV specials, four feature films, at least 1,400 books selling 300 million copies and countless products around the world, including a solid gold Cartier statuette of Snoopy.

In recent years, a "Peanuts" backlash picked up steam. Some critics said Schulz was distracted by marketing demands, and his characters had become caricatures of themselves by shilling for Metropolitan Life Insurance, Dolly Madison cupcakes and others.

In 1993, a Chicago Tribune columnist wrote that "Peanuts" was past its prime and no longer funny or relevant.

Well-Read, but Preferred Son's Work

Schulz had a casual and tidy look, with the bearing of a kind, sweater-wearing Sunday school teacher, which, in fact, he was when his kids were young. He had white hair and square glasses, a wide forehead, warm smile and tentative voice. In his last years, his hands shook. When he drew, he put one hand over the other to steady himself.

He liked to read, and he and Monte recommended books to each other. Schulz read Thomas Wolfe, Carl Sandburg, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Joan Didion -- and anything by his son. He told an associate that Monte's latest novel was the best book he had ever read. He never told Monte.

Schulz and his first wife raised their kids on a horse ranch outside Sebastopol in Northern California, not far from Schulz's studio in Santa Rosa. He said little publicly about their divorce in 1972. A year later, he married his second wife, Jeannie, whom he met at his ice rink.

The Schulzes usually gave money away quietly, writing unsolicited checks to friends in tight spots. In April 1998, they donated $5 million to support a new high-tech library at Sonoma State University, Jeannie's alma mater.

Schulz rarely ventured beyond his house, studio and his ice rink. Schulz grew up ice skating, and so did his kids. Until his illness, he played in an ice hockey league with friends.

Schulz was a mentor for countless animators, whom he invited to his studio and wrote to on Snoopy stationery.

"The first time I met him I was overwhelmed with the thought that this was exactly what I hoped Charles Schulz would be," said his friend, cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, creator of "Cathy."

His sweet, boyish nature endeared him to friends, who overlooked his moodiness and withdrawals.

Even when he was in intensive care, recovering from a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in 1981, he picked up a pencil to cheer a friend up. Coincidentally, Raul Diez, his buddy from the local hockey team, was in the same hospital for blood clot complications. Schulz scribbled a cartoon of himself in a hospital bed attached to intravenous tubes, saying: "Raul, what in the world are we doing here?"

The two used to kid each other about their bad health, but not during Schulz's last bout with cancer.

"My God," Schulz told Diez after his cancer surgery. "I'm just waiting around to die now."

When he retired, he said he wanted to spend more time with family, including 18 grandchildren and stepchildren, and five kids: Meredith, Monte, Craig, Amy and Jill.

Schulz often said with glee that his kids decided that no one would carry on "Peanuts" after his death.

"My dad is Charlie Brown, inside and out," his daughter, Amy Johnson, told the Deseret News in December. "Nobody else can be that."

The difference between her dad and Charlie Brown is this: On Valentine's Day, in a longtime "Peanuts" heartbreaker, Charlie Brown always stared into an empty mailbox.

On Valentine's Day -- from the time he created Charlie Brown's lonely heart -- Charles M. Schulz's mailbox was always full.

Tributes Planned for "Peanuts" Creator Schulz

February 14, 2000


SANTA ROSA, California -- The flag at the ice rink "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz built for his adopted hometown flew at half mast on Monday as friends, fans and neighbors turned the arena into an impromptu memorial filled with flowers, balloons, goodbye notes and thank you cards.

Schulz's son Monte said a public memorial service was tentatively scheduled for next Monday for the 77-year-old cartoonist, who died in his sleep late on Saturday night after a three-month battle against colon cancer.

The death came on the eve of publication of the final "Peanuts" strip.

The cartoonist's friends and neighbors streamed through the day to the ice arena, leaving bouquets of flowers, balloons and notes thanking Schulz for creating the "Peanuts" gang.

Santa Rosa Mayor Janet Condron said the town plans to honor Schulz with bronze statutes of Charley Brown with Snoopy at his side, while a "Peanuts" museum is also set to open next year.

Before his death, the intensely private Schulz had declined city suggestions to name a street for him because he did not want the attention, she added.

A series of strokes had also weakened Schulz and he lost partial sight in one eye, making it impossible for him to ever draw again. Monte Schulz, in an interview with Reuters, said his inability to draw on some level may have caused the cartoonist to quit fighting.

"It was very unusual but we talked about it right at the time and we thought it was not entirely a coincidence," Monte Schulz said in a telephone interview. "He was very tired from his chemotherapy and did not seem to feel that his outlook was very bright."

A private funeral was planned later in the week for the creator of the lovable cast of losers that included round-faced Charlie Brown and his weird but wise dog Snoopy. Schulz will be buried in Sonoma County, where he lived for the past 40 years, Monte Schulz said.

Colon cancer had forced Schulz to give up drawing the strip, estimated to have 350 million readers in 75 countries. But the cartoonist still felt well enough to go ice skating with one of his daughters on Friday night, Monte Schulz said.

"So it was interesting in the sense that he had little things, little inspirations and joys that he was looking forward to but they weren't enough to mitigate the dark horizon of the colon cancer," his son said.

Fellow cartoonists had previously planned to honor Schulz by making all comics in newspapers around the country on May 27 about "Peanuts." That tribute, which is still planned, was kept secret so it would be a surprise but was made public after Schulz's death.

Cartoonists looked up to Schulz -- nicknamed "Sparky" after a character in the "Barney Google" comic strip -- not just for his innovative comic strip but also because he helped many get a start in the business.

"The beauty of Sparky is that he always remembered what it was like to be anything -- to be heartbroken, to be a failure, to be lost, to be lonely," said Cathy Guisewite, who draws the comic "Cathy." "He kept those memories very close to heart and I think he also kept the memory of a new cartoonist very close to heart."

Schulz, whose primitive drawing style was criticized in the early years of the strip, was estimated to have made about $55 million. The "Peanuts" gang was featured in television specials and advertising campaigns, while Charlie Brown spawned a Broadway show.

Schulz was born in Minnesota but spent much of his life in Northern California, where he become one of Santa Rosa's leading philanthropists.

He and his wife Jean pledged $5 million for a new high-tech information center at Sonoma State University and the cartoonist built the ice rink so all the town's children could learn to skate.

How can we ever forget them? Charles Schulz dies on eve of "Peanuts" finale

February 14, 2000

By Cesar G. Soriano
USA Today

As his final comic strip went to press, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, the world's most read and revered cartoonist, died of a heart attack late Saturday at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif.

"It's almost as if he couldn't bear to live without creating Peanuts every day," says Diane Iselin, a spokeswoman for Peanuts' syndicate, United Feature.

Schulz, 77, died in his sleep after a battle with colon cancer and a series of small strokes that forced him to announce his retirement in December. His Sunday comic featured Snoopy typing out a farewell message that became Schulz's epitaph.

For nearly 50 years, Schulz drew and wrote every one of Peanuts' 18,000-plus strips, in later years from his office at 1 Snoopy Place in Santa Rosa. A mirror of baby-boomer nuance, Peanuts became a part of American pop culture, starring a gang of imperfect, neurotic and crudely drawn children facing everyday adversities.

"The hopeful and hapless Charlie Brown, the joyful Snoopy, the soulful Linus, even the `crabby' Lucy, give voice, day after day, to what makes us human," President Clinton said in a statement.

Charles Monroe Schulz was born Nov. 26, 1922, in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul. He was the son of a barber. "Sparky" Schulz's only cartooning education was through art correspondence courses. He was drafted and served in World War II as an Army infantryman.

In 1948 he launched his first feature, Li'l Folks. Renamed Peanuts -- a title Schulz said he never liked -- the strip made its debut Oct. 2, 1950, in seven papers. At the end, it appeared in 2,600 in 75 countries and 21 languages. Peanuts films, books, videos, theme parks, a Broadway musical and countless merchandise followed.

Schulz drew from his childhood for Peanuts. A red-haired young woman who rejected his marriage proposal became Charlie Brown's unrequited love, the Little Red-Haired Girl.

"All my fears, my anxieties, my joys and almost even all of my experiences go into that strip," Schulz said in a recent "60 Minutes" interview.

A private family service will be held this week, and a public memorial service is planned later. A tribute to Peanuts will be printed in newspaper comics pages May 27, when Schulz will posthumously receive the National Cartoonists Society's Lifetime Achievement Award. Schulz's family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, a campaign Schulz helmed.

A clause in Schulz's contract prevents any other cartoonist from taking over Peanuts. United Feature is offering old strips to newspapers; about 95 percent of Peanuts carriers have picked up the reruns.

Another of Schulz's "60 Minutes" comments resonates poignantly in the wake of his death: "I lie in bed some nights and I can't think of anything and I can't go to sleep. And as Charlie Brown says, `Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, `Why me?' Then a voice answers, `Nothing personal. Your name just happened to come up.' "

Farewell to Schulz, Peanuts

As comic strip ends, fans mourn its creator

February 14, 2000

By Jonathan Curiel and Pamela J. Podger
The San Francisco Chronicle

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and a few hundred million mortals mourned yesterday for Charles Schulz, the gentle and heartfelt Santa Rosa cartoonist who created the Peanuts strip that was read and loved by people in 75 countries around the world every day.

Hours before his final cartoon appeared in Sunday newspapers, Schulz died in his sleep Saturday night at his home in Santa Rosa, apparently from complications of colon cancer.

"Dear Friends," Schulz wrote in the final strip, which showed Charlie Brown kicking and missing a football, Lucy sitting at her psychiatrist's stand, and Snoopy typing Schulz's letter. "I have been fortunate to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for almost 50 years. It has been the fulfillment of my childhood ambition."

Considered by his colleagues as the greatest cartoonist in history, Schulz, who was 77, had retired from drawing Peanuts in December, after suffering a series of small strokes during emergency abdominal surgery. His last daily strip ran January 3.

Schulz's death on Saturday night was a shock to his family and fans and to colleagues who planned a surprise tribute to him on May 27. On that day, every comic strip in the United States was going to honor him. The tribute had been a well-kept secret.

"We wanted him to open the paper that day and be surprised by all the cartoons," said Daryl Cagle, president of the National Cartoonists Society. "We hoped it would be a celebration of his 50th anniversary. Now, it's going to be a memorial tribute to him."

Cagle said many of the cartoons will have their characters talking to Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts crowd.

In Santa Rosa, mourners streamed to Schulz's Redwood Empire Ice Arena from the Bay Area and elsewhere. Among them was longtime fan May Kobold of Santa Rosa, who paid tribute in the heavy rain that she thought symbolized the world's tears for Schulz's death.

"When Buddy Holly died, they always say it was the day the music died. Well, with Schulz's death, it is just like the day the laughter died," Kobold said.

Schulz died in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, after he spent the day watching golf on television with several of his friends. When he came home, according to his wife, Jean, "He said he didn't feel well. He said, `I guess it's just the chemo.' "

Schulz was diagnosed with colon cancer on November 16, spent two weeks in a Santa Rosa hospital, then was forced to take time off for chemotherapy.

Yesterday, cartoonists around the United States mourned the man they considered to be the greatest representative of their profession.

"It's the end of an era, and it's hard to imagine that cartooning will ever be the same," said Scott Adams, who draws the popular Dilbert cartoon. "In basketball, you can say that Michael Jordan was the greatest ever. In cartooning, Charles Schulz was the greatest ever -- and probably the greatest there ever will be."

Guy Gilchrist, who draws the cartoon strip Nancy and who was a friend of Schulz, said, "He was the best there ever was. He was a light on this Earth."

Every day in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the other Peanuts characters made readers laugh, chuckle and empathize with their foibles. Peanuts, which debuted on Oct. 2, 1950, was translated into more than 20 languages and read by more than 350 million readers.

The most widely syndicated comic strip in history, Peanuts inspired many television specials, starting with the 1965 CBS-TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Books of Peanuts were also published to widespread success.

"The consistency, the quality, the range -- there was so much he could capture in his strip," said John McMeel, chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal, a Kansas City, Mo., company that published several of Schulz's books, and whose Universal Press Syndicate sells such cartoons as Cathy and Garfield.

"He made our industry so much better," said McMeel, who has been friends with Schulz for more than 20 years. "To have his death occur just on the eve of the last Sunday strip -- Christ."

Outside Schulz's ice arena, hockey sticks, love letters to "Snoopy's Dad," stuffed animals and huge bunches of flowers piled up in a spontaneous outpouring of grief from mourners.

Inside, Schulz's corner table near the fireplace at the Warm Puppy Cafe, where the cartoonist regularly ate lunch and socialized with pals, still proudly bore its "Reserved" sign.

Schulz's son, Monte Schulz, 48, of Nevada City, leaned against the counter where ice skates are rented and reminisced about his father, who built the arena in 1969 just down the street from his studio.

Schulz said his father was greatly comforted by the affection lavished on him by fans after he announced his colon cancer and his retirement. Schulz said his father was "very depressed" after several strokes rendered him unable to draw anymore, but added that the influx of hand-penned cards and worldwide recognition helped "ease the pain."

"He's been a very popular person," said Schulz, the second oldest of five children. He said he and his siblings spoke together Saturday about the irony of their father dying right before his last strip was published.

"We talked about that last night. We thought that somehow it all went together, and it connected, to us, that his life was over."

"He was a good dad. He was sentimental, compassionate, instructive," said Schulz, who is working on a novel titled "Crossing Eden." "He inspired my writing. He wanted me to have big language and big writing."

The last daily Peanuts comic ran in early January, and the final farewell strip appeared yesterday in newspapers, including The Chronicle. Earlier versions of the strip will continue to be published in The Chronicle and in other papers.

Year after year in Peanuts, the long-suffering Charlie Brown faced misfortune with a mild, "Good grief!" Tart-tongued Lucy handed out advice for a nickel, and Snoopy, Charlie Brown's wise beagle, strapped on his helmet, jammed down his goggles and took the occasional flight of fancy back to the skies of World War I and his rivalry with the Red Baron.

The strip was an intensely personal effort for Schulz. He had a clause in his contract that said the strip had to end with his death. While battling cancer, he opted to retire, saying he wanted to focus on his health and family without the worry of a daily deadline.

"It's hard to overemphasize how important he was to the profession," Cagle said. "Before Sparky (Schulz's nickname), cartoons were largely slapstick and adventure. After Sparky, you expected sophistication and character development. You expected characters that have foibles and insecurities and who really are quite complex.

"He taught us all about character development, and he raised the art form to a new level of sophistication. On this level, no one else had more influence. He has more fans and daily readers than anything else that's written in the world."

Adams, who lives in the East Bay, was one of many cartoonists yesterday who said that Schulz changed their lives.

"When I was a little kid, when I was deciding what to be, I was reading Peanuts cartoons and completely captivated by them," he said. "I thought, `This would be a good job.' "

The Peanuts strip, said Adams, was "outwardly about someone being defeated, but no matter how many times the characters were defeated, they were essentially undaunted. The characters were so distinctive. They were like friends."

The family said a private burial will take place this week. A public memorial service in Santa Rosa is being planned for next week.

Schulz is survived by his wife, Jean, of Santa Rosa; three daughters -- Meredith Hodges, of Loveland, Colo.; Amy Johnson, of Alpine, Utah, and Jill Transki of Santa Barbara; two sons -- Monte Schulz of Nevada City and Craig Schulz of Santa Rosa; a stepdaughter, Lisa Brockway, of Ashland, Ore.; a stepson, Brooke Clyde, of Santa Rosa; and 18 grandchildren.

The family suggests donations to the Bill Mauldin World War II Cartoon Art Gallery Endowment, c/o Charles Schulz's Studio, 1 Snoopy Place, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. The National Cartoonists Society said that donations can also be sent to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, of which Schulz was national campaign chairman, at 202 E. Main St., Bedford, VA 24523.

Yesterday, it was Schulz who had the final farewell, in his own domain.

His last Peanuts strip showed Snoopy at his typewriter and Lucy and Linus and other Peanuts regulars cavorting merrily about the final panel. In the center was Schulz's "Dear Friends" letter, thanking his readers for their support.

"I have been grateful over the years for the loyalty of our editors and the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans of the comic strip," Schulz wrote. "Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them..."

The comic ended with his signature.

Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank, research librarian Kathleen Rhodes and Chronicle news services contributed to this report.

After the Laughter

His life: "Peanuts" creator went from humble beginnings in the Twin Cities to humble success worldwide.

February 14, 2000

St. Paul Pioneer Press Staff and Wire Reports

"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, the most beloved and successful cartoonist of the 20th century, died of colon cancer Saturday, hours after his final strip appeared in early editions of Sunday's paper.

It was a bittersweet irony not lost on his mourners worldwide: As the artist always intended, "Peanuts" ended with him.

Schulz, who was 77, died in his sleep. As word passed among Twin Cities residents Sunday morning, hundreds of mourners made their way to Rice Park in downtown St. Paul, where one day earlier Mayor Norm Coleman had declared "Charles `Sparky' Schulz Day."

Mourners also placed flowers around the barber pole once owned by Schulz's father (now in O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul) and remembered him during a moment of silence at Camp Snoopy in the Mall of America.

Schulz was diagnosed with cancer following abdominal surgery in November, during which he suffered a series of strokes that left his speech and vision severely impaired. He announced his retirement the following month.

The announcement left St. Paul officials scrambling for a way to honor the beloved cartoonist. Schulz, born in Minneapolis, was reared in an apartment on the corner of Snelling and Selby avenues in St. Paul, above a barbershop his father owned. A call went out for suggestions on how the city might honor Schulz, and thousands of responses came in from around the world.

But all plans were put on hold Sunday.

"The city will do something to honor Schulz, but now is not the time to discuss that," Coleman said Sunday afternoon. "Fifty years of his life helped us understand ours. We have to step back a bit and reflect on this."

Randi Johnson, owner of the St. Paul business Tivoli Too and a member of the committee devising ways to recognize Schulz, said she spoke with the cartoonist's wife on Saturday and got no indication he was so seriously ill. Johnson had business dealings with Schulz for years, eventually becoming a friend.

"Sparky was an easy man to be friends with," she said Sunday.

(When he was two days old, an uncle called him Sparky after cartoon character Barney Google's horse, Sparkplug. The nickname stuck. His first cartoon for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in the late 1940s, in fact, is signed "Sparky.")

Johnson said Schulz was aware of the plans being considered in St. Paul -- which range from a series of character statues around town to an annual illustrators award -- but never expressed his preference.

Donna Wold of Minneapolis, the model for Charlie Brown's heartthrob, "the little red-haired girl," was out of town and could not be reached for comment. As a young man, Schulz proposed marriage to Wold, but she turned him down. The two kept in contact, however, and Wold's daughter said Sunday that her mother spoke with Schulz a week ago.

Indeed, "Peanuts" rarely strayed from Schulz's experience: The strip's characters were named for old friends, comments and experiences were often taken from those of his five children, and its emotional sustenance came from its creator's life. Like Charlie Brown, Schulz never did become a successful flyer of kites.

Sunday's panel, featuring Snoopy atop his doghouse, ran with a farewell from the artist, who thanked his editors and loving fans for a half-century run that was "the fulfillment of my childhood ambition." Newspapers will continue running classic "Peanuts" strips, beginning with those Schulz created in 1974.

"Peanuts," a name Schulz long eschewed, was introduced on Oct. 2, 1950, in seven newspapers. Ultimately, it ran in 2,600 papers in 75 countries and 21 languages, and reached an estimated audience of 355 million, believed to be the largest in the history of cartooning.

The progress of his disease and unexpected retirement left Schulz's spirits low, Monte Schulz, the artist's oldest son, said Sunday: "I think maybe he decided that his true passion was in the strip, and when that was gone, it was over. ... He had done what he had wanted to do."

Charles Monroe Schulz was born Nov. 26, 1922, the only child of Dena and Carl Schulz. He became interested in cartooning around age 6. At age 13, he was given a black-and-white dog named Spike, a name he later gave to Snoopy's brother.

Although he skipped two grades in elementary school, Schulz ultimately was as dismal a student as Peppermint Patty. He flunked algebra, Latin, English and physics in ninth grade.

Socially, he was Charlie Brown's equal. At St. Paul Central High, he grew to 6 feet tall, 135 pounds, and had a disagreeable complexion -- although, unlike Charlie Brown, he possessed a full thatch of hair on a less cantaloupe-shaped head. Adding misery to anguish, his cartoons were rejected for the high school yearbook, a slight Schulz -- who grew into a handsome man and accomplished athlete -- never forgot.

Upon graduation, Schulz enrolled in cartooning correspondence classes offered by Art Instruction Schools Inc., his parents scraping to come up with the $170 tuition, paid in installments.

Schulz became a teacher at Art Instruction and got his first cartooning job, lettering the feature "Timeless Topix" for a Catholic magazine. He soon created a weekly panel called "L'il Folks," the precursor to "Peanuts," for the Pioneer Press and sold 15 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1950, Schulz sent a few "L'il Folks" panels to United Feature Syndicate, which agreed to run the strip but renamed it "Peanuts" to avoid confusion with Al Capp's "L'il Abner." Schulz abhorred the change: "To me, `Peanuts' means something insignificant and unimportant," he once said.

The strip took a few years to develop a clear style, but by 1955 Schulz won the Reuben Award, the National Cartoonists Society's highest honor. Three years later, the strip appeared in 400 papers.

In 1978 he was named International Cartoonist of the Year and in 1990 he was named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture. Television specials based on "Peanuts" earned Peabody and Emmy awards.

In 1990 he also helped produce a book and video to help children deal with cancer.

Schulz never liked to travel and returned to the Twin Cities only twice after he left in 1958 for California. He eventually made his residence in Santa Rosa, where there is a now a "Peanuts" museum and ice rink whose construction he financed.

He came to the Twin Cities for the opening of the Mall of America and its entertainment complex, Camp Snoopy, in 1992, and in 1994 for a fund-raiser for Canine Companions, a group that trains dogs to live with people with neurological diseases, Johnson said.

Until he was too ill, the cartoonist worked six days a week, sometimes propping his drawing hand in the other to steady it. While many classic comics have been inherited by other artists, Schulz intended that "Peanuts" would end with him, and, in the most poignant and precise way, it did.

Schulz leaves behind his wife, Jeannie; five children, Meredith, Monte, Craig, Amy and Jill; two stepchildren; and several grandchildren.

Private services are to be held this week.

"Peanuts," its creator pass on together

Februaray 14, 2000

By Karen Heller
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, the most beloved and successful cartoonist of the 20th century, died of colon cancer Saturday at his home in Santa Rosa, California, hours after his final strip appeared in early editions of yesterday's paper.

As the artist always intended, Peanuts ended with him.

Mr. Schulz, who was 77, began celebrating the comic strip's golden anniversary last year. He died in his sleep with his wife, Jeannie, by his side.

He was diagnosed with the cancer following abdominal surgery in November, during which he suffered a series of strokes that left his speech and vision severely impaired. Mr. Schulz reluctantly announced his retirement the following month. He had never taken more than five weeks off in his career -- and then only after his 75th birthday -- and was Peanuts' sole creator, completing each strip without benefit of gag writers, illustrators or even colorists.

On Jan. 3, the day the artist's farewell weekday comic was published, a number of his fellow cartoonists paid homage to Mr. Schulz in strips dedicated to Peanuts' ageless coterie of wise and affecting characters.

"It's really remarkable how minimal his drawing is yet the range of emotions he could display," said his friend, Brian Walker, whose father, Mort, created Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois. "Just by the way the eyes and mouth are drawn he could convey an incredible complexity of emotions. He does perplexed and anxious just through a subtle altering of a line."

Yesterday's panel, featuring Snoopy atop his scarlet doghouse, ran with a farewell from the artist, who thanked his editors and loving fans for a half-century run that was "the fulfillment of my childhood ambition." Newspapers around the country, including The Inquirer, plan to continue running classic Peanuts strips, beginning with those Mr. Schulz created in 1974.

Peanuts, a name Mr. Schulz long eschewed, was introduced on Oct. 2, 1950, in seven newspapers. Ultimately, it ran in 2,600 papers in 75 countries and 21 languages, and reached an estimated audience of 355 million, believed to be the largest in the history of cartooning.

Mr. Schulz created more than 18,000 daily strips, and spawned a Disney-like industry, Creative Associates, whose 800 licensees generated $1 billion in 1998 retail sales.

The strip exploded beyond the funny pages. In 1998, one in five Hallmark cards sold -- 1.5 billion -- featured a Peanuts character. Apollo X modules bearing the names Snoopy and Charlie Brown orbited the moon. "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which debuted in 1965, launched a string of 50 Peanuts TV specials that won five Emmys and two Peabody Awards. "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," a staple of high school drama departments, premiered off-Broadway in 1967 and ran for five years; last year's Broadway revival garnered two Tony Awards.

Generations of dogs were named Snoopy. Rare was the child's bedroom that did not contain a stuffed Snoopy dog and at least one of the more than 1,400 Peanuts books -- 300 million copies sold. "Happiness is a warm puppy" is in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. "Good grief" and "rats" (both phrases the proper Mr. Schulz used in lieu of cursing), the Great Pumpkin, security blanket, the kite-eating tree, blockhead, and the revival of Bulwer-Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night" -- all are instantly identified with Mr. Schulz's artistry.

But the cartoonist's most enduring legacy is his characters. Profoundly heartfelt without leaving readers misty-eyed, Peanuts contributed the most hapless and effervescent figures on the funny pages: Charlie Brown and Snoopy, the bipedal beagle whose global celebrity may be second only to that of Mickey Mouse. Rarely topical, consistently intimate, Peanuts' attention to the hardships of the human condition was the cornerstone of its universal appeal and earned Mr. Schulz the adulation of his fellow cartoonists.

"Isn't it amazing how you have no control over your real life?" Mr. Schulz told protegee Lynn Johnston, creator of the comic strip "For Better or For Worse," at Christmas. "You control all these characters and the lives they live ... [yet] you have no way of writing your own story."

"But I think, in a way, he did," Johnston said yesterday. "It's amazing that he dies just before his last strip is published...[It's] as if he had written it that way."

The progress of his disease and unexpected retirement had left Mr. Schulz's spirits low, Monte Schulz, the artist's oldest son, said yesterday: "I think maybe he decided that his true passion was in the strip, and when that was gone, it was over ... He had done what he had wanted to do."

Schulz was a rabid hockey devotee who gave his town a professional ice rink, a former Sunday School teacher in whose strip some saw the Gospel, and a man with a briar patch of neuroses similar to those of his characters, who articulated the indelible wounds of childhood.

"He would love to say he was Snoopy, but he's not often a Snoopy personality," Paola Muggia Stuff, director of San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum (which Mr. Schulz helped found), recently observed. "He's got the crabbiness of Lucy; he feels as lonely and as out of place as Charlie Brown. He's all of those characters."

Mr. Schulz's childhood experiences of the Great Depression, rejection and physical awkwardness remained close to him in adulthood.

"Those early defeats you never get over," he said last year.

Charles Monroe Schulz was born Nov. 26, 1922, in St. Paul, Minn., the only child of Dena and Carl Schulz.

"The comics entered my life early," he wrote in "Peanuts: A Golden Celebration," published last year. At 2 days old, an uncle called him Sparky after Barney Google's horse, Sparkplug. The nickname stuck.

For 45 years, his father -- like Charlie Brown's -- owned and operated the Family Barbershop, and for many years the Schulzes lived upstairs. During the Depression, the family often ate pancakes for dinner, the son believing the diet was borne out of preference rather than financial hardship.

He became interested in cartooning around age 6. At 13, he was given a black-and-white dog named Spike, a name he gave to Snoopy's pampered brother.

Though he skipped two grades in elementary school, Sparky Schulz ultimately proved to be as dismal a student as Peppermint Patty. He flunked algebra, Latin, English and physics in ninth grade.

Socially, he was Charlie Brown's equal. At St. Paul Central High, he grew to 6-feet-tall, 135 pounds, and had a bad complexion -- though, unlike Charlie Brown, he did possess a full thatch of hair on a less cantaloupe-shaped head. Adding misery to anguish, his cartoons were rejected for the high school yearbook, a slight that Schulz -- who grew into a handsome man and accomplished athlete -- never forgot.

Upon graduation, Mr. Schulz enrolled in cartooning correspondence classes offered by Art Instruction Schools Inc., his parents scraping to come up with the $170 tuition, paid in installments.

One of the artist's most traumatic moments came upon his 1943 induction into the Army when his mother was seriously ill. "He was at boot camp, came home and went to the movies with his parents. [His mother] says, `This might be the last time we see each other,' " recalled Brian Walker, who now co-produces "Hi & Lois." "The next morning she dies, and then he's shipped out. I think that was at the root of his agoraphobia. He liked to be at home doing his routine with his warm, extended family, just like his father the barber."

Schulz served in France, but saw only four days of front-line combat. After the war, and despite the C+ in Drawing of Children (another slight he carried with him), Mr. Schulz became a teacher at Art Instruction and got his first cartooning job, lettering the feature "Timeless Topix" for a Catholic magazine. He soon created a weekly panel called "L'il Folks," the precursor to "Peanuts," for the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper and sold 15 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1950, Schulz sent a few "L'il Folks" panels to United Feature Syndicate, which agreed to run the strip but renamed it "Peanuts" to avoid confusion with Al Capp's "L'il Abner." Schulz abhorred the change: "To me, peanuts means something insignificant and unimportant."

The strip took a few years to develop a clear style, but by 1955 Schulz won the Reuben Award, the National Cartoonists Society's highest honor. Three years later, the strip appeared in 400 papers.

In 1949, Mr. Schulz married Joyce Halverson, the sister of a fellow art instructor. They had five children and moved to northern California in 1958. The marriage ended in 1970.

Schulz became an excellent golfer and played center for a local senior hockey league. After the old rink fell in disrepair, Schulz built the Redwood Empire Arena in 1968 as a gift to Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco. It served as a virtual second home to the artist, whose daily ritual was to have breakfast and lunch each day at the rink's Warm Puppy restaurant, a short walk from his nondescript office at One Snoopy Place.

In 1974, Mr. Schulz married filmmaker Jeannie Forsyth -- a woman as outgoing as he was retiring -- whom he met, naturally, at the ice arena.

Raised Lutheran, Schulz became a member of the Church of God. He tithed regularly to the church and gave to charity with little fanfare -- $5 million to Sonoma (Calif.) State University to help finance an information center, $1 million to the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla. He never drank, smoked or swore. He vented frustration, as his characters did, with a "rats" or "good grief."

Schulz was also a voracious reader, devouring fiction -- Anne Tyler was a favorite, Tolstoy another -- and subscribing to Publishers Weekly.

"He was an incredibly complex person," said Lucy Caswell, a cartoon historian and friend. "He was the kind of conversationalist where you never know what he was going to ask you. He was a man of very generous spirit. He wore his wealth well."

The cartoonist lived comfortably, but quietly. Forbes magazine perennially listed Schulz among the country's highest-paid entertainment figures -- $62 million in earnings in 1989.

He owned a plane, which Jeannie Schulz copiloted, but loathed travel, despised hotel rooms, and declined most invitations save for those from fellow cartoonists. Schulz suffered from panic attacks, worried incessantly, and battled depression. He was happiest at home and working.

"He's not the hail-fellow-well-met," Jeannie Schulz once said. "For years he knew he didn't fit, he didn't feel comfortable in the mainstream. We may go out and laugh, but his comfort zone is where he lives. It's a narrow zone."

"Peanuts" rarely strayed from Schulz's experience: The strip's characters were named for old friends; comments and experiences were often taken from those of his five children; its emotional sustenance came from its creator's life. Like Charlie Brown, Schulz never was a successful flyer of kites.

The feature was launched at a time when papers requested a drastically reduced format that would allow them to stack the comics. Schulz's inspired response was to create a strip dependent on characters, rather than gags, with less dialogue and in an understated style that spoke louder than anything on the page.

"One can scarcely overstate the importance of Peanuts to the comics, or overstate its influence on all of us who have followed," observed Bill Watterson, creator of "Calvin and Hobbes," citing Schulz's "brilliant graphic shorthand and stylistic economy."

"Schulz would set you up with a couple of tiny tots speaking in childlike innocence for three panels," wrote cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty in Slate, "then come out of the wild blue yonder with one of them sounding suddenly like a middle-aged college professor in the grip of a nervous breakdown. The dimensions of comic-strip possibility expanded."

Above all else, the strip understood the difficulty of childhood. "Being a kid is not easy. It's a fearful world out there, and the playground is a dangerous place," Schulz said last year.

Schulz "epitomized one very basic principle of human nature," said his editor, Amy Lago. "We all want to be as witty and lovable and funny and just interesting and adorable as Snoopy, but we all feel like we're like losers like Charlie Brown."

Schulz never forgot the rejection by Donna Johnson, the original red-haired girl, a fellow art teacher who broke his heart a half century ago and married someone else.

Peanuts' leitmotif was unrequited love: Charlie Brown for the never-seen, red-headed girl; Lucy for Schroeder, who pined only for Beethoven; Sally for Linus, who preferred the security of his blanket. "I find unrequited love funny," Schulz observed more than once.

"Some people can get over loss very quickly; then there are people who can remember every golf match or tennis match, or any loss," Schulz told his biographer, Rheta Grimsley Johnson. "They never get over it. Maybe I've been somewhat like that."

"He's bitter about all kinds of things," said "For Better or for Worse's" Johnston. "He's bitter about the little red-haired girl who didn't marry him. He's bitter about his divorce. He's bitter about getting old."

In truth, Peanuts' stellar 50-year run revolved around countless permutations on a handful of basic themes: the kite-eating tree, history's most hapless baseball team, Lucy's 5-cent psychiatry booth, Snoopy's adventures as a World War I flying ace against the Red Baron. Schulz was always capable of coming up with a different twist.

"For 50 years, his keen eye, his good and generous heart, and his active brush and pen have given life to the most memorable cast of characters ever to enliven our daily papers," said President Clinton yesterday.

"It may seem strange that there are no adults in Peanuts' world, but in asking us to identify only with children, Schulz reminds us that our fears and insecurities are not much different when we grow up," Calvin and Hobbes' Watterson said. "We recognize ourselves in Schulz's vividly tragic characters."

The children are eternally young, and while the verities are universal, the learning curve is flat. Lucy never once let Charlie Brown kick the football. The world's losingest pitcher/manager hit precisely one home run -- on March 30, 1993. Love never came to Peanuts' hero, yet Charlie Brown's hope sprung eternal.

Schulz has cited the Book of Job in his strip; in the Christmas special, Linus recites from the Gospel According to Luke; and Robert L. Short searched the strip for greater meaning in his 1964 "The Gospel According to Peanuts," which likened Charlie Brown's pitcher's mound to Job standing atop the ash heap.

Garry Trudeau wrote late last year, that Peanuts was "the first (and still the best) postmodern comic strip. It was populated with complicated, neurotic characters speaking smart, haiku-perfect dialogue."

Schulz's good friend and occasional ice-skating buddy, Cathy Guisewite, creator of Cathy, said that "a comic strip like mine would never have existed if Charles Schulz hadn't paved the way. He broke new ground, doing a comic strip that dealt with real emotions, and characters people identified with."

Until he took too ill, the cartoonist worked six days a week, sometimes having to prop one hand in another. While many classic comics have been inherited by other artists, Schulz intended that Peanuts would end with him and, in the most poignant and precise way, it did.

Schulz leaves his wife, Jeannie, and his children, Meredith, Monte, Craig, Amy, and Jill; two stepchildren; and several grandchildren. Private services are to be held this week.

Charles Schulz dies just as farewell 'Peanuts' hits doorsteps

Feburary 14, 2000

By Mary Ann Lickteig
The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, California -- Monte Schulz, eldest son of the "Peanuts" creator, saw his father's spirits sag as the cartoonist battled illness and was forced to give up his beloved comic strip.

For the son, it was no coincidence that Charles Schulz's last strip featuring Snoopy and the gang was published on the very day the artist died.

"He just didn't seem all that willing and interested to fight the colon cancer," Monte Schulz said. The diagnosis came in November, and the cartoonist announced plans to retire his strip a month later.

The 77-year-old cartoonist died in his sleep Saturday at home with his wife, Jeannie. The exact cause of death wasn't known. A public memorial service was tentatively set for Feb. 21 in Santa Rosa, the artist's adopted hometown.

In addition to his wife and son Monte, Schulz is survived by son Craig and three daughters, Meredith Hodges, Amy Johnson and Jill Schulz Transki; two stepchildren and 18 grandchildren.

Schulz's final strip showed Snoopy at his typewriter and other "Peanuts" regulars along with a "Dear Friends" letter thanking readers for their support.

"I think maybe he decided that his true passion was in the strip, and when that was gone, it was over," Monte Schulz said. "He had done what he had wanted to do, and that was it for him..."

Year after year in "Peanuts," the long-suffering Charlie Brown faced misfortune with a mild, "Good grief!" Tart-tongued Lucy handed out advice at a nickel a pop. And Snoopy, Charlie Brown's wise-but-weird beagle, re-fought World War I atop his doghouse.

It was an intensely personal effort. While some cartoonists hire assistants, Schulz would have none of it, said Sergio Aragones, a longtime friend and colleague.

"He sat there and he drew," he said.

Schulz had a clause in his contract dictating that no one else could ever draw "Peanuts." His last daily comic ran in early January, though old strips will continue to be published.

Animator Bill Melendez, who drew the many Peanuts television specials based on story boards Schulz approved, said today that production is almost complete on another half-hour show, in which Snoopy plays the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Melendez said Schulz never told him whether he also wanted the animated Peanuts shows to stop with his death. "It's so sad that he's gone, because we had developed a real modus operandi. We had so much fun together."

Fans and colleagues hailed Schulz as an irreplaceable artist whose work had become infused in American popular culture. California lawmakers declared had Sunday "Charles M. Schulz Day. Even in orbit, the crew of space shuttle Endeavour heard the up-tempo "Peanuts" theme song early today.

"I think `Peanuts' has been, for most of its existence, the best comic strip in history," said Mell Lazarus, who draws the "Momma" and "Miss Peach" strips and was a friend of Schulz's for 42 years.

At the Santa Rosa ice rink built by Schulz, 8-year-old Trevor Jones offered a bouquet of flowers decorated with a drawing of the cartoonist on skates. "I lik you," it read.

At the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla., Schulz fans became mourners as they came to see an exhibit featuring his work.

"I said when they called me, `It's not true,' " said a tearful Jeanne Greever, the museum's director of operations.

Schulz was born in Minneapolis on Nov. 26, 1922, and was raised in St. Paul. He studied art after he saw a "Do you like to draw?" ad. He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and sent to the European theater, although he saw little combat.

After the war, he did lettering for a church comic book, taught art and sold cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post. His first feature, "Li'l Folks," was developed for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1947.

In 1950, it was sold to a syndicate, and "Peanuts" made its official debut in seven newspapers on Oct. 2 of that year. Eventually, it ran in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries.

"It had that rare ability to appeal to 5 year olds and 85 year olds," said Greg Evans, creator of the "Luann" cartoon, who lives in San Marcos, Calif.

Schulz went on to win the Reuben Award, comic art's highest honor, in 1955 and 1964. In 1978, he was named International Cartoonist of the Year, an award voted by 700 comic artists around the world.

The 1965 CBS-TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," won an Emmy and became a holiday classic, paving the way for more television specials. A play, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," debuted off-Broadway in 1967 and was revived on Broadway in 1999.

Several times, Schulz was listed as one of Forbes magazine's best-paid entertainers. But despite his success, he struggled with depression and anxiety, according to his biographer, Rheta Grimsley Johnson.

The emotional turmoil only improved his work, she found, as he poured those feelings of rejection and uncertainty into the strip, turning Charlie Brown into Everyman.

"Rejection is his specialty, losing his area of expertise. He has spent a lifetime perfecting failure," Johnson wrote in her 1989 book, "Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz."

Schulz himself left little doubt about the strip's role in his life.

"Why do musicians compose symphonies and poets write poems?" he once asked. "They do it because life wouldn't have any meaning for them if they didn't. That's why I draw cartoons. It's my life."

Only last Wednesday, Schulz spoke to local radio station about his retirement. He said he had had difficulty speaking and seeing after suffering a series of strokes since November and couldn't draw the way he used to.

"All of a sudden, one day, it's taken. It's gone. I can't do it," he said.

When asked about the outpouring of adulation that followed his decision to stop drawing his beloved characters, Schulz said he was touched.

"I'm pleased that I was able to live long enough to see it all," he said.

"Peanuts" fans reflect on cartoonist who touched lives

February 14, 2000

By Roger Petterson
The Associated Press

Of all of the oddball kids that paraded through the "Peanuts" strip, Charlie Brown was Don Tansey's favorite.

"The guy's always trying to do the best for others, and he gets left behind. It's a theme that happens so much in this country. The nice people get left behind," Tansey, 50, of Short Hills, N.J.

Tansey and several generations of Americans on Sunday mourned the loss of 77-year-old Charles Schulz, the cartoonist who enchanted kids and adults alike for five decades.

Like Tansey, many felt left behind.

"For 50 years, his keen eye, his good and generous heart, and his active brush and pen have given life to the most memorable cast of characters ever to enliven our daily papers," President Clinton said in a statement. "The hopeful and hapless Charlie Brown, the joyful Snoopy, the soulful Linus -- even the `crabby' Lucy -- give voice, day after day, to what makes us human."

The coincidence of Schulz's death one day before his final "Peanuts" appeared in newspapers weighed heavily on "Peanuts" fans.

"It's real sad. He did a really neat strip and it really touched a lot of people's lives. It's really too bad he couldn't enjoy his retirement," said Charles Weier, who lives in the house in St. Paul, Minn., where Schulz spent his teen-age years.

Schulz was diagnosed with colon cancer and suffered a series of small strokes during emergency surgery in November 1999, and announced his retirement a few weeks afterward.

In addition to the last appearance of a new "Peanuts" strip, Sunday was officially Charles "Sparky" Schulz Day in St. Paul.

"We will all miss his daily dose of wisdom," St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman said Saturday when he proclaimed the observance, before Schulz's death. "In each of his characters, we see a little bit of ourselves."

About 250 people ignored snow and temperatures in the teens Saturday as Coleman unveiled an ice sculpture of the Peanuts characters.

"It's just ironic that in your last comic strip you're gonna call it all and ... all of a sudden you die," said Rick Micheltree, a cook at Mickey's Diner in St. Paul.

At the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla., a red rose was placed beneath a portrait of Schulz with Snoopy atop a snow-covered doghouse in the background. Larry Brokahn, 39, left yellow and purple daisies at the foot of a Charlie Brown statue.

"I've read `Peanuts' since I was 12," Brokahn said.

"It's sad to think that he didn't get the chance to see his last strip running in the paper," Tom Batiuk, cartoonist of "Funky Winkerbean" and "Crankshaft," said Sunday from his home in Medina, Ohio. "It would have been nice to see him bask in the glory of it a little bit more."

"I am part of that generation of cartoonists that were just devoted to his work," Batiuk added. "Strips prior to his time reflected the world around us, he opened a door to the world inside us and allowed us to share feelings that are common to everyone."

Mell Lazarus, who draws the "Momma" and "Miss Peach" strips, knew Schulz for 42 years.

"I think `Peanuts' has been for most of its existence the best comic strip in history, and nothing's ever approached it," Lazarus said. "He's going to be missed and will clearly never be replaced."

John McMeel, chairman and president of Andrews McMeel Universal, the parent company of Universal Press Syndicate, said Schulz set the standard for other comic creators.

"It's rare in an industry where white space in newspapers is at such a premium for one competitor to hold another competitor's work up as the quality for which all other cartoonists should strive. But that was the type of comic strip `Peanuts' was. Charles Schulz taught us all in the syndication business to reach for that high standard."

Santa Rosa is center of grief

February 14, 2000

By Mary Ann Lickteig
The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, California -- This small city, which had been poised for a bittersweet morning, was shellshocked when newspapers landed on doorsteps carrying not only the final "Peanuts" strip, but news of its creator's death as well.

By 9 a.m., flowers already lay outside the doors of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, where cartoonist Charles Schulz loved to skate here in his adopted hometown, about 60 miles north of San Francisco.

In the next hours, his fellow hockey players clustered in the lobby and told tournament tales. His son Monte stopped by, trying to comprehend his father's death. And the flowers, notes and mementos kept coming.

Azaleas, roses, carnations and irises lay outside the ice arena's Warm Puppy coffee shop, where Schulz started each morning with coffee and the newspaper.

A "reserved" sign still marked his table by the fireplace.

Twenty-five-year-old Ikue Kanasugi had arrived from Tokyo on Saturday, flying to California for the sole purpose of being able to read the final "Peanuts" at the Warm Puppy.

Although the entire arena -- and adjacent gift shop -- were closed Sunday because of Schulz's death, staffers heard her story and let her inside.

She plans to fly back to Tokyo on Tuesday, dream intact.

Among the flowers outside the cafe, Leisa Lambert left a note explaining how she told everyone she was going to marry Snoopy when she was a little girl. "My mom finally explained to me he's a cartoon dog," she wrote. "I was heartbroken!"

At the top of her note mourning Schulz's death she wrote, "Broken hearted once again," and she left it with a single red rose and pin that says, "Happiness is Loving Snoopy."

The Swiss-chalet-style ice arena -- home to hockey schools, figure-skating competitions, school programs and Snoopy's Senior Hockey Tournament, which draws competitors from around the world -- was a gift from Schulz and his former wife, Joyce, to the people of Santa Rosa after the city's only ice rink went out of business.

Schulz last skated there Friday.

His oldest son, Monte, 48, stopped by Sunday morning when he couldn't sleep. The loss hadn't sunk in yet, he said.

"I think it'll take a long time. I think I'll have to be in all the places, like the ice arena and his studio, and have him not there for me to realize he's died," he said.

Phil LeBrun of the Santa Rosa Great Pumpkins hockey team and James Guay of the Red Barons joined other hockey players at the arena and talked about how Schulz refused to charge admission to his 25-year-old hockey tournament even though spectators got to watch many former pros.

The artists also gave every man on 56 teams a medal for participating. The cartoonist who wouldn't let his characters win a baseball game didn't want anyone to lose.

Steve Lang helped coach Schulz's team, the Santa Rosa Diamond Icers. On the ice, Lang said, "He wasn't Charles M. Schulz, world-famous cartoonist; he was Sparky, the hockey player and one of the guys."

He scored his team's only two goals when the Diamond Icers won the gold medal in their division two years ago.

"He was elated," head coach Roland Thibault said. "He went around the arena waving his stick."

Schulz remembered in city where he grew up

February 14, 2000

The Associated Press

ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesotans remembered "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz in the city where he grew up a day after the famed cartoonist died in his sleep in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Several people gathered in St. Paul on Sunday at O'Gara's Bar and Grill, the site of a former barbershop run by Schulz's father. Schulz's family once lived in an upstairs apartment.

"Some people have left flowers underneath the old barber post. It's kind of a bittersweet occasion right now," said David Mruz of Minneapolis, a cartoonist historian who is working on a history of Minnesota cartoonists.

Schulz, 77, died Saturday night, just as newspapers carrying his last "Peanuts" comic strip were hitting newsstands. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer and suffered a series of small strokes during emergency abdominal surgery in November 1999.

Schulz's last strip showed Snoopy at his typewriter, other "Peanuts" regulars and a "Dear Friends" letter thanking readers for their support.

"It's real sad. He did a really neat strip, and it really touched a lot of people's lives," said Charles Weier, who lives in the house in which Schulz lived as a teen-ager. "It's really too bad he couldn't enjoy his retirement."

Saturday afternoon, just hours before the cartoonist died, St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman had made a Charles "Sparky" Schulz Day proclamation at a "Peanuts" party in the city's Rice Park.

"We will all miss his daily dose of wisdom," Coleman said. "In each of his characters, we see a little bit of ourselves."

About 250 people ignored snow and temperatures in the teens as Coleman unveiled an ice sculpture of the Peanuts characters clustered around Snoopy's doghouse. Dozens of get-well cards were decorated and sent to Schulz's home.

On Sunday, Coleman invited people who want to send cards and letters to Schulz's family to leave them in the park among the ice sculptures of Peanuts characters, which include the piano-playing Schroeder. Someone left flowers Sunday on top of an ice sculpture of Schroeder's baby grand piano.

At the Mall of America in Bloomington on Sunday afternoon, Camp Snoopy observed a moment of silence, stopping all park operations to honor Schulz's memory.

Sharon Freeman, 45, of Shawnee, Kan., learned about Schulz's death when it was announced over the intercom while she was sitting on her first ride. "It was very unusual to be sitting on the rides out in Camp Snoopy and find out that he'd passed away," she said.

Freeman said Charlie Brown is her favorite "Peanuts" character.

"I think everybody says the same thing. They can identify with being kind of a misfit sometime in their life," she said.

Schulz's peers are certain to miss him, said Mort Walker, creator of the Beetle Bailey comic strip.

When Schulz first started drawing, the cartoonist establishment was unimpressed, Walker said.

"Nobody thought he was too good, to tell you the truth, because he had a whole different style. He didn't do the traditional solid cartoon, which was kind of slapstick humor," Walker said. "But he brought in pathos, failure, rejection, all that stuff and somehow made it funny."

Schulz was born in Minneapolis and attended St. Paul Central High School. He launched his career from an art instruction school in Minneapolis.

Davis Maass of Orono attended the school around the same time and became a wildlife artist.

"Our paths went in different directions, but I was always a great admirer of Charles Schulz. It gave all of us in art, especially those who took the course, someone to look up to," Maass said.

St. Paul has been searching for ways to honor its most famous illustrator, who lived in the city until the 1950s.

Besides plans for about 50 plastic Snoopys scattered around the city, tributes could include a "Charles Schulz Endowed Chair of Illustration" at the College of Visual Arts, according to activists working on ideas.

In lieu of flowers, Schulz's family asks that contributions be sent to the National D-Day Foundation, 202 East Main St., Bedford, Virginia, 24523.

House honors "Peanuts" creator

February 15, 2000

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz was remembered today as a genius who touched the lives of millions of Americans as the House adopted a resolution to award him a Congressional Gold Medal.

The 77-year-old cartoonist died in his sleep Saturday at his Santa Rosa, Calif., home, a day before Schulz's last strip featuring Snoopy and the gang was published. He had announced in November he would retire after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

"On Saturday night, millions of Americans lost their security blanket," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. "Life won't be the same without Charles Schulz. We let `Peanuts' into our lives on a daily basis."

The House measure passed 410-1. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was the lone dissenter. An identical bill is pending in the Senate.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said Americans will "never forget Snoopy's imagination, Lucy's cynicism, Linus' gentle innocence, Woodstock's loyalty or Charlie Brown's vulnerabilities, hopes and dreams."

Schulz's "gift to our nation were characters who spoke with clarity about those simple fleeting moments that bind us together, bind together our adulthood and our childhood," Thompson said.

Public service for Schulz next week at Luther Burbank Center

February 15, 2000

By Chris Smith
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

As hundreds enjoyed a community all-skate Monday at Charles Schulz's Santa Rosa ice rink, the cartoonist's family announced a public memorial for next week that will draw cartoon artists from around the country.

The public memorial will start midmorning Monday at the Burbank Center for the Arts. The time has yet to be set.

His wife, Jeannie, and his seven children and stepchildren will gather for a private family funeral this week.

The universally known Schulz, who for 50 years drew his "Peanuts" comic strip, died Saturday night at his home outside Santa Rosa. His final original strip ran in newspapers around the world the following morning, on Sunday.

Although Schulz had been slowed by cancer and mild strokes, the death of the 77-year-old artist came as a surprise. He skated Friday with the help of his daughter, Jill Transki, at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena. And on Saturday, he was tired but watched golf on TV with friends and gone to a daughter's house for dinner.

Monday's public memorial is expected to provide an opportunity for Schulz's fellow cartoonists to honor a colleague who is widely regarded as their mentor and the greatest cartoonist ever.

The cartoonists also are planning a special tribute for later this spring.

On May 27, as the National Cartoonists Society meets in New York, every American funnies-page comic and political cartoonist will honor Schulz.

The cartoonists' original plan was to surprise him that day.

"The idea was that he would open up his paper and the cartoons would be a tribute to him," said Greg Evans, creator of the "Luann" strip.

The cartoonists chose May 27 because that is day of the society's annual Reuben Awards banquet. Schulz's colleagues had hoped he would be able to attend the dinner and receive his Cartoonist Society's Milt Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, the professional association's top award.

With "Peanuts" turning 50 in October, said cartoonist Rick Stromoski of Connecticut, the society's first vice president, "We figured it would be a great year to give the award to Sparky."

Schulz, the undisputed dean of American cartoonists, regularly attended the annual awards banquet. In recent weeks, he told people close to him he hoped to make it to the May event.

Stromoski said the nation's comics artists, political cartoonists and distribution syndicates thought so much of Schulz that 100 percent of them had agreed to create cartoons honoring him and "Peanuts" on May 27.

The cartoonists plan to go ahead with the tribute and will present the award to a member of his family.

"It's a way of showing how much we loved him," Stromoski said.

On Monday, Schulz was on the minds of about 600 people of all ages who accepted an invitation by his family and employees to come skate for free at the ice rink, which he built on West Steele Lane in 1969.

Many schoolchildren had the day off, including 8-year-old T.J. Midgett of Santa Rosa, whose family made plans weeks ago to hold his birthday party at the rink. The T.J.'s party had to share the place with a big crowd because of the free day, but nobody seemed to mind.

"It just worked out that there are a lot more kids to skate with," said the birthday boy's mother, Lorna Midgett.

"The kids will remember this to the end," she said.

Sharon Howell, who brought her kids, Laura, 10, and Peter, 8, to skate, was feeling blue as she listened to the "Peanuts" musical theme play on the arena's sound system. "It's kind of sad that all the characters died with Mr. Schulz," she said.

Career skater Richard Dwyer, the arena's general manager, said he misses Schulz but was happy to see so many people on the rink that he loved.

"We thought yesterday, "What would Sparky want?' We thought to have all the families out for Valentine's Day would make him happy."

God's cartoonist Charles Schulz created a wildly successful comic strip -- and a new theological vehicle many others have emulated

February 15, 2000

By Michael Valpy
The London Globe and Mail

A dog full of existential doubt portraying a typical Christian. A baldheaded little boy drawn from the character of Job. The little boy's playmate, who is incapable of learning the folly of idolatrous worship. A group of pre-adolescents frozen in original sin.

A comic-strip -- historians a century hence will invent a more ponderous word -- primer of postmodern morality that daily for 47 years told hundreds of millions around the world that humanity's state is frailty, failure, futility, hubris, aggression and bootless hope, leavened occasionally by flashes of wisdom.

A comic strip, a children's entertainment, a newspaper back-page confection that philosophers and theologians and cultural scholars analyzed with references to the likes of Tillich, Kierkegaard, Freud, Beckett, Adler and Thomas Mann.

"Have you noticed I do a lot of spiritual things?" Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, asked in an interview shortly before his death on Sunday.

Peanuts -- the narrative of hapless Charlie Brown, his friends, his sister Sally and his dog Snoopy -- not only blazed a new superhighway through the genre of newspaper comics, it created a new and increasingly emulated theological vehicle for a secular world.

It was the first comic strip to present children with doubts and anxieties.

"It was the first strip," said cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, creator of Cathy, "where the characters voiced real vulnerabilities." It changed the comics forever, said Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston, creater of For Better or For Worse. It presented a world of humanity with all its vulnerabilities exposed.

Noted Canadian child psychiatrist Paul Steinhauer has lectured on Peanuts. His colleague at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Arlette Lefebvre, has used the strip in her therapy with physically disfigured children.

Cultural historian Hamilton Cravens of Iowa State University, seeking to explain Peanuts' astonishing, enormous and sustaining popularity, said the strip presented a view of shared morality that elsewhere has ceased to exist.

The New York Times quoted Italian author Umberto Eco, writing in a forward to an Italian-language book of Peanuts cartoons: "These children affect us because in a certain sense they are monsters; they are monstrous infantile reductions of all the neuroses of a modern citizen of the industrial civilization."

No matter how hard they try, the children of Peanuts never solve their problems. They do not learn lessons from life. They are unable to produce any radical change for the better in themselves.

Witness Charlie Brown year after year, decade after decade, running to kick the football that Lucy pulls away from him at the last moment. Or Charlie on the baseball diamond, after 43 consecutive strikeouts, getting into a heated discussion on the travails of Job.

Witness his friend Linus -- the seeker after false gods -- waiting in vain each year for the Great Pumpkin to appear on Halloween.

Witness worldly, epicurean Snoopy. In the words of Arkansas Presbyterian clergyman Robert L. Short -- whose "Gospel According to Peanuts," published in 1965, has sold 10 million copies -- Snoopy is the typical Christian, a flawed character who is nonetheless good.

Witness the proud Lucy, who would rather die than ask forgiveness.

Schulz noted that people in the beginning wrote to him asking why Charlie Brown always loses. In latter years, he said, they wrote to him thanking him for his gentle spiritual messages.

The messages were there from the beginning. In the early years of the strip, the syndicate that controlled its distribution had the clout to force Mr. Schulz to drop them. But as Peanuts' enormous popularity took hold, they shelved their objections.

Thus the strip became regularly a setting for the parables of Jesus and many Old Testament stories -- about 10 per cent of the daily panels had religious references -- told gently and unpreachily.

"I must exercise care in the way I go about expressing things," said Schulz, a Sunday School teacher and lay minister in the Protestant Christian Church of God. "I have a message that I want to present, but I would rather bend a little to put over a pointthan to have the whole strip dropped because it's too obvious."

What perhaps is not widely realized is how many disciples have followed Schulz into theological cartooning. At least half a dozen well-known strips regularly incorporate religious themes, admonishments and characters.

Beetle Bailey has a kindly chaplain. Hagar the Horrible uses homilies and Biblical quotes. Bil Keane's Family Circus has family prayers, Sunday church services and grandfather with angel's wings in heaven. Johnny Hart, the author of B.C. and co-author of The Wizard of Id, has one of his caveman characters pointing to an empty tomb, raising his right fist and shouting: "Yes."

The last word goes to Charlie Brown. Linus asks him: "After you've died, do you come back?" Charlie Brown replies: "If they stamp your hand."

Goodbye, Charlie Brown

February 15, 2000


The crew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour was awakened Monday morning to the theme song from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," beamed up by mission control.

The town of Santa Rosa, California is talking about building bronze statues of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Even the Feds are getting in on the act, with the House of Representatives voting to honor the Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz with a Congressional gold medal.

Peanuts and Charles Schulz may be no more, but the remembrances have only justbegun.

With Peanuts, Charles Schulz created characters that all of America -- and even the world -- could relate to. He was able to capture the anxiety inherent in the modern age, when the weak are often tossed away as inconsequential.

It won't be easy to forget Charles Schulz and his quirky cast of kids --the anxious and bumbling but tender-hearted Charlie Brown, his imaginative dog Snoopy, the loud-mouthed Lucy and her insecure brother Linus. Hopefully we never will.

The letters below were sent to Newsweek in response to the publication of Newsweek's Jan 1, 2000 issue, which paid tribute to Charles Schulz when he announced that he would be quitting the strip after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Schulz died this past Saturday, Feb 12, 2000.

When I was four, neighbors gave me a stuffed Snoopy that was almost as big as me. I carried him around by the neck, confiding all my secrets to him. He was my best friend until his head eventually fell off from the strain.
Paula Hentz
Wilmington, DE

Good grief, Charles Schulz, you can't just cut us off! How about a "rerun" of the past 50 years?
John R. Conley
Wheeling, WV

The pathos and wisdom of Peanuts are timeless. I just hope I'm still around when some savvy publisher decides to release a "Complete Peanuts" compendium containing every strip Schulz ever created. I'd be the first in line to buy it.
Rick Horndasch
Peoria IL

I was working on my family's genealogy when I remembered a sage remark by Schulz that seemed appropriate to my task. Charlie Brown and Lucy are sitting under a tree as Linus walks by. Charlie asks, "Isn't that your brother walking along with a blanket in his mouth?" Lucy replies that her aunt says, "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your relatives." Thanks, Charles Schulz, your humor lightens many tasks.
Clark Lybeck
Antioch, CA
(Editor's note: This strip is dated June 2, 1991)

I distinctly recall the gang's comments on Vietnam. About 30 years ago, when the draft board was hot on my heels, I remember Charlie Brown observing, "I wonder where they'll be sending us when we get old enough to be sent?" To which Linus replied, "I don't know, but I don't think I want to go there."
Phillip H. Snaith, Esq.
Sunrise, FL
(Editor's note: The actual strip, dated Sept 15, 1969, has Linus asking what happens when people are drafted. When Charlie Brown answers that Linus will be sent "someplace," Linus responds, "That's what I was afraid of. I have no desire to be sent where ever they'll be sending people when I'm old enough to be sent.")

One of the most insightful Peanuts strips was a conversation between Charlie Brown and Lucy, in which Lucy asked Charlie Brown if he was good at math. After looking down at his feet in embarrassed silence, Charlie responds, "As a matter of fact, I'm better at subjects where the answer is mostly a matter of opinion."
Dorothy Kirschbaum
Asheville, NC
(Editor's note: In this strip, dated Feb 25, 1959, Patty asks Charlie Brown how he is doing in school and Charlie says he's having trouble in arithmetic. When Patty says she thinks Charlie would like the subject because it is so precise, Charlie replies, "That's just the trouble. I'm at my best in something where the answers are mostly a matter of opinion.")

Charlie Brown making another run at kicking the football... Lucy pulling it away at the last second... Lucy delivering another homily above a dazed and prostrate Charlie. Ah, how sweet it was!
Edward G. Koran
Phoenix, AZ

The end of Peanuts is truly the end of an era. Without Charles Schulz's comic strips, animated specials and collections of paperback books, my childhood would have been far lonelier. Schulz remembers what it's like to forget the egg shells for a school project, or to borrow a crayon from school, break it, and to have no adult to confide in. More and more children can relate to these scenarios. It's too bad that Charlie Brown and Snoopy will no longer be there for them. In my case it was losing a school library book in second grade. Ironically, it was one of Schulz's "Happiness is..." books. I remember believing that it would be necessary to contact Schulz, a hero to me, in order to replace the book. I'm now sure that if Schulz had learned of this, he would have understood. At least, he would have been happy to sell another book. God bless you, Mr. Schulz, for being there when I needed you.
Robert C. Becker, Jr.
Northford, CT

As an eight-year-old in 1974, I turned to Peanuts to help to ease the pain of my parents' absence. To whom should I turn if I miss Peanuts?
Abdul Rahmat
Omar, Malaysia

Many people are reflecting on just how important Charles Schulz's outlook on life has been to all of us -- and none more so than a group of volunteers who knit, crochet and quilt "security blankets" for children in crisis in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, emergency rooms, shelters and other places that attempt to soften life's blows. We come from all over the country and belong to Project Linus. Through the years we have donated over 100,000 blankets.
Thanks to Charles Schulz for his inspiration.
Barbara H. Palmer
Pittsburgh, PA

Snoopy still flying with NASA to push safety

February 16, 2000

By James McWilliams
The Huntsville Times

A NASA committee is looking for ways to honor the late "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz.

The "Peanuts" character Snoopy is the mascot of NASA's "Silver Snoopy" astronaut-safety program. Astronauts give the awards, sterling silver lapel pins in Snoopy's likeness, to NASA workers and contractors who make exemplary contributions to flight success. Each pin flies in space aboard a NASA mission before it is presented to the award winner.

"We were hoping to have Schulz at the 100th shuttle launch, where we were hoping to bring him out and recognize him," said Shelby Weathers, manager of Marshall's space flight awareness program and administrator of Marshall's Silver Snoopy program.

Space & Technology news

Schulz died in his sleep Saturday at age 77, after battling colon cancer and small strokes. His final original comic strip, featuring a thank-you note to fans, appeared Sunday. Reprints of old strips continue in The Times and many other newspapers.

Although new "Peanuts" strips have ended, the Silver Snoopy awards will live on, said Marshall spokesman Jerry Berg, who won a Silver Snoopy in 1993. Schulz made an agreement with NASA to let the space agency keep using Snoopy to promote safety.

A committee is now discussing how NASA may still honor Schulz at the 100th launch -- likely in September -- and at all the NASA centers and major contractor locations nationwide, said Weathers.

Weathers said she wasn't sure what posthumous recognition NASA could give Schulz. NASA could put recognition centers or montages of "Peanuts" strips at every NASA location, Weathers said.

NASA officials said Snoopy is their safety mascot because he is both a watchdog and an accomplished pilot. (His doghouse doubles as a World War I Sopwith Camel fighter plane.)

NASA has used Snoopy as its safety mascot since the late 1960s, and the beagle kept his mascot status through the Apollo and space shuttle programs.

In 1969, the command module and lunar module of the Apollo 10 spacecraft both were named for "Peanuts" characters. The command module was named Charlie Brown, and the lunar module was named Snoopy. The Apollo 10 mission was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The official reason for naming the lunar module for Snoopy was because astronauts were planning to go to the moon to "snoop around," said Berg.

Schulz's first comic feature, "Li'l Folks," was developed for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1947. In 1950, a revamped strip, "Peanuts," was picked up by a syndicate and made its official debut in seven newspapers.

The strip eventually ran in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries.

"Peanuts" characters have since been featured in movies, a Broadway play, greeting cards, and commercials and TV specials seemingly for every holiday. The specials began with the Emmy-winning "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in 1965.

Santa Rosa, House back honors for Charles Schulz

Santa Rosa's City Council and the House of Representatives joined growing efforts Tuesday to honor "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz following his death Saturday.

A proposal to award Schulz the Congressional Gold Medal easily cleared the House.

February 16, 2000

By James W. Sweeney and Chris Smith
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Later Tuesday, the Santa Rosa council and two community partners launched an effort to raise more than $220,000, $175,000 for a bronze sculpture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy to be placed at Railroad Square's Depot Park and $45,000 for 50 miniatures of the sculpture. The city is guaranteeing to make up the difference if the fund drive doesn't meet its target.

"We've gotten hundreds of calls from all over the country from people asking us how they can contribute," said Mayor Janet Condron, who won unanimous council support to commission the 4-foot-tall sculpture and the miniatures.

The contract actually was supposed to be scheduled for the council's consideration March 7, but Condron said that in the wake of the outpouring of sentiment since Schulz's death "we wanted to set up something they can participate in now."

Speaking on behalf of the council, Condron said of Santa Rosa's most famous resident, "We'll miss him. He's certainly had an impact on all of us."

As elected officials in Santa Rosa and Washington approved tributes to Schulz, the cartoonist's family worked with operators of Santa Rosa's Burbank Center for the Arts to refine plans for a memorial service Monday morning.

Center officials and the family are grappling with the logistics of a public event that could draw a huge crowd to the arts center at Highway 101 and River Road. The time of the service will be set today.

The House resolution to honor Schulz with the Congressional Gold Medal was introduced Thursday and cleared the floor Tuesday on a 410-1 vote.

First presented to George Washington, the medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian.

"This bill is not about honoring a cartoonist who made us laugh and think but rather about honoring a lifetime of work that has transcended generations of Americans and has become a fabric of our national culture," Rep. Mike Thompson said on the House floor.

Thompson, D-St. Helena, is the lead sponsor of the resolution to honor Schulz. More than 300 other House members signed on as co-sponsors.

"We will never forget Snoopy's imagination, Lucy's cynicism, Linus' gentle innocence, Woodstock's loyalty or Charlie Brown's vulnerabilities, hopes and dreams," Thompson said.

"On Saturday night, millions of Americans lost their security blanket," Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said on the House floor. "Life won't be the same without Charles Schulz."

Only Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, voted against the resolution. A spokesman said Paul opposes all congressional honors. "There is no constitutional authority to spend $30,000 in taxpayers' funds to honor great people," spokesman Tom Lizardo said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is sponsoring a companion measure in the Senate. It could come up for a vote as early as next week.

Recipients of the medal include Robert Frost, Mother Theresa, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Mandela and Walt Disney.

Schulz has never been honored by the federal government, Thompson said. California lawmakers proclaimed Sunday Charles Schulz Day to commemorate the final new "Peanuts" comic strip.

The Sonoma County Community Foundation and the Cultural Arts Council of Sonoma County are helping in the fund-raising campaign for the sculpture.

Donations made payable to "SCCF-Schulz Sculpture" can be sent to the Sonoma County Community Foundation, 250 D St., Suite 205, Santa Rosa 95404.

Donors who give $10,000 or more will receive one of 50 miniature castings of the sculpture, to be created by artist Stan Pawlowski of Long Beach. Pawlowski has worked with the Schulzes for more than 20 years and been commissioned by them to create a number of pieces.

Schulz himself helped conceive of the sculpture.

The idea for the public art was born in 1998 as a way for the Cultural Arts Council to thank Schulz for the many years he had promoted the arts in the county.

The arts council's Ellen Draper said a couple of the original ideas were to create sculptures of several "Peanuts" characters or to commission a sculpture showing Schulz with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. But when arts council members shared their ideas with Schulz late in 1998, Draper said, he said they would be too much.

"He wanted it simple," she said. "He told us what he would like."

It was then, nearly 18 months ago, that the Cultural Arts Council launched an effort to honor Schulz with a bronze sculpture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. A month ago, when the City Council considered a proposal for honoring Schulz, the idea of a sculpture rose to the top.

The partners in the project said it was important to authorize Pawlowski to get started on the statue so it can be dedicated Oct. 2, the 50th anniversary of the "Peanuts" strip.

Schulz was 77 when he died Saturday at his Santa Rosa home of complications of colon cancer. His death came as newspapers across the country were preparing to distribute the final new "Peanuts" strip.

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