We share the loss...

A card showing Peppermint Patty crying is placed next to flowers outside the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which Charles Schulz built in Santa Rosa.
The tributes began to appear early Sunday morning, February 13, 2000. (AP photo/Dan Krauss)

United in sorrow

The man we love may be gone, but his work lives on, and will live on forever...Charlie Brown and the gang haven't "left" at all; we need only open a book, or pop in a video, and they're very much with us.

But we always try to express our feelings, and put thoughts to paper...share the feelings that might otherwise overwhelm us.

The following articles are poignant, sometimes sad, but they all celebrate the man we knew as Sparky.

I don't often go in for this sort of thing, but there's no denying the smile that this little tribute produced. And if its author steps forward, I'll happily identify him or her.

Charlie Brown Heaven

The Fates were almost smiling on the sandlot gang that day,
They'd reached the bottom of the ninth, and still were in the fray.
Against all hope they'd managed yet to keep themselves alive...
For the score, though still against them, stood at only 6 to 5.
And with a man on third they had the means to tie the score,
(Although "man" is not quite right; it was a beagle, nothing more).
And through the silent dugout every player thought the same...
This just might be the day that they would finally win a game!

Two batters took the plate -- and two went down right in a row,
And now the mood inside the dugout hit a deeper low.
A piano sat unplayed; a blanket lay alone and sad,
The home team's luck was holding ... holding uniformly bad.
Two outs they had, two down, and but a single out remained,
So not surprisingly 'twas now that it began to rain.
"One more at bat," the umpire cried, "and then this game I'll call,
For clearly in a minute we'll be too drenched to play ball!"

Then "Aughh!" came from the dugout, and the stands replied with "Aughh!"
From the loftiest of players to the lowliest of dogs.
And little wonder what had pushed them to this saddened state:
For Charlie -- good ol' Charlie -- was advancing to the plate.
"Strike one!" was soon in coming, followed closely by "Strike two!"
And folks began to leave the stands; they knew the game was through.
Yet Charlie, with two strikes against him, never said a word,
But whack! sent into outer space what should have been the third!

"The hit heard 'round the world," they later said of Charlie's feat,
And for perhaps the first time Good ol' Charlie's world was sweet.
No crabbiness from Lucy now; and later on, that fall,
It's said that Lucy actually let Charlie kick the ball!
Oh, what commotion now ensued; had Reason taken leave?
For Charlie Brown to win a game was tricky to believe.
And out in Santa Rosa lies a fellow with a grin,
"Perhaps," he thinks, "perhaps, just once, I will make sure they win!"

He gazes toward the ceiling, then, and through it to the sky,
And to his great amazement sees that very ball whiz by.
And close behind it (naturally) a flying doghouse nears,
Controlled by bird and beagle, both in search of fresh root beers.
And high above, a melody: 'tis Beethoven, he deems,
And all at once the tune shifts to some more familiar themes.
He stops to get a better look, and then he laughs aloud,
For Guaraldi -- Vince Guaraldi! -- sits, just playing on a cloud.

Another cloud is cloaked in dust, "That's Pigpen's cloud, I fear!"
He watches now as more and more familiar friends appear.
There's Violet, Shermy and the rest from when the world was new,
Side by side with Woodstock, Sally, and the later Peanuts crew.
Their laughter rings throughout the sky, and as the heavens close,
The music fades to silence ... after that, well, no one knows.
While back on earth, next morning, all the papers hit the stands,
With final strip - its message now more poignant than was planned.


Now somewhere kids fly kites and dogs fly planes, just as before,
And somewhere monstrous pumpkins rise from patches by the score,
And somewhere blankets, Beethoven and baseball are the rage,
But there is no joy in our town; Mr. Schulz has left the stage.

--In memorandum

Final "Peanuts" comic strip offers poignant goodbye

February 13, 2000

The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, California -- Charles Schulz's final "Peanuts" strip turned into a poignant epitaph on Saturday as the beloved cartoonist's penned farewell became even more bittersweet at his death.

The 77-year-old cartoonist died of cancer in his sleep at his home late Saturday, just as printing presses and paper carriers nationwide were sending out his goodbye letter that marked his last Sunday "Peanuts" strip.

The signed letter also ran when he ended his daily comic strip on Jan. 3.

In several Sunday newspapers, the strip opens with Charlie Brown on the phone saying, "No, I think he's writing." In the next panel, Snoopy is shown on his dog house, pecking on a typewriter. "Dear Friends...," it reads.

"Dear Friends, I have been fortunate to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for almost 50 years. It has been the fulfillment of my childhood ambition.

"Unfortunately, I am no longer able to maintain the schedule demanded by a daily comic strip. My family does not wish Peanuts to be continued by anyone else, therefore I am announcing my retirement.

"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.

"Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them ..."

The letter ends with Schulz's signature.

Classic "Peanuts" images decorate the letter: Lucy pulling away a football as Charlie Brown tries to kick it, Snoopy trying to steal Linus' blanket, and Lucy getting hit on the head by a baseball with a loud "Bonk!"

Schulz's contract stipulates that no one else will ever draw the strip, which debuted Oct. 2, 1950, and reached an estimated 355 million readers daily in 75 countries.

United Feature Syndicate has planned to continue publishing "Peanuts" reprints.

Charles M. Schulz: official obituary

February 13, 2000

Schulz, Charles Monroe, passed away in his sleep at his home in Santa Rosa, California, Saturday, February 12, 2000. The greatest cartoonist of the Twentieth Century, his life was an inspiration of art and humanity.

Beloved in life by family and community, venerated by his peers, admired by countless friends, proud veteran of the Second World War. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 26, 1922, the only son of Carl and Dena Schulz, resident of Sonoma County for forty-one years. Lover of books, music, painting, athletics. A good and decent man. A loving husband, a wise and compassionate father to five children and two stepchildren.

Survived by his beloved wife Jean Schulz, his faithful companion in life, dear friend, and confidant. His cousins Patricia M. Swanson, Gaylon Halverson, Linus Halverson, Victor Hansen, Scandinavians by blood, proud yet of Sparky's service to this country. His eldest daughter Meredith Hodges, and his granddaughter Dena -- My love for you, Dad, will live on in my heart and guide my days for the rest of my life. My father, my hero, my friend. I love you -- Mimi."

His eldest son and namesake, Charles Monroe Schulz Jr., and his wife Erin Marie Monte "will miss his father until the day he goes to his own rest. Only the emptyhearted lament those days of carnival and renown once they're gone. A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. This, I believe, is the elation for which he was born." Your joyous and wonderful life, Dad, will forever inspire my imperfect hand.

Craig Schulz family, wife Judy, children Bryan and Lindsey. In loving memory of my father, the finest example of a human being I have ever met. It was a privilege being your son. We soared above the Earth together for hours at a time and walked many a mile on endless fairways always closing with admiration and respect for each other. Your greatest gift to me was time, the time that allowed me to raise my children as I know you would have liked. You are my hero now and forever.

Our love for all eternity -- John and Amy Johnson and their children Stephanie, Brian, Chuck, Melissa, Emily, Marci, Mikey, Heidi, and Daniel. Amy was known to her Dad as Amos "and fondly referred to as the girl with the golden eyes." She adored her many trips to California with her husband and children to visit Grandpa. Amy and her family will forever cherish the gift of fun times spent at his house. Her husband John appreciated his many hours spent on the golf course with his father-in-law. Whenever asked, Amy's children would always say their favorite thing to do was to go to California to visit Grandpa. Their fondest memories include the special times spent around Grandpa's swimming pool and at his ice arena.

"Pa Pa," forever in our hearts -- Aaron Transki, Jill Schulz Transki, Kylie Transki, Lamar Transki, Bosco & Zumi. Dad, you instilled in me the value of caring, honesty, confidence, truth, and more than anything a sense of how to appreciate life. I know if you were standing here beside me now, you would squeeze my hand and say, "Show them how!" Thank you, Dad, I love you -- Your Rare Gem.

His step-son Brooke Clyde and his wife Sheree Green, their children Morgan and Nicholas Clyde. How could we ever forget him? His step-daughter Lisa Clyde Brockway and her children Chelsea, Donovan and Fiona, Sparky welcomed me into his family with an open heart. He loved, guided, encouraged and supported me, always urging me to discover my better angels. For that, and so much more, I'll be forever grateful.

He was preceded in death by his father, Carl Frederick Schulz and his mother Dena Halverson Schulz. Private services were held in Sebastopol, California at Pleasant Hill Park. Friends are invited to attend a public memorial on Monday, February 22, 2000, at 11 a.m. at the Luther Burbank Center, Santa Rosa, California. In lieu of flowers, the family of Charles M. Schulz has requested that donations be made payable to the Bill Mauldin WWII Cartoon Art Gallery Endowment and sent to National D-Day Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 77, Bedford, Virginia 24523.

"Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz dies at 77

February 13, 2000

By Mary Ann Lickteig
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Charles M. Schulz, the cartoonist who delighted the world with the adventures and adversities of Charlie Brown, his friends and a dog named Snoopy, died on Saturday. He was 77.

Schulz, who was diagnosd with colon cancer and suffered a series of small strokes during emergency abdominal surgery in November 1999 and announced his retirement a few weeks afterward, died in his sleep at about 9:45 p.m., his son Craig Schulz said.

Schulz had seemed fine earlier in the day and had gone to his daughter Jill Transki's home in Santa Rosa. Only his wife, Jeannie, was with him when he died at home, Craig Schulz said.

His wildly popular comic strip, "Peanuts," made its debut on Oct. 2, 1950. The travails of the "little round-headed kid" and his pals eventually ran in more than 2,400 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 68 countries.

His death came on the eve of the publication of the last strip he drew, showing Snoopy at his typewriter and other Peanuts regulars along with a "Dear Friends" letter thanking his readers for their support.

Over the years, the Peanuts gang became a part of American popular culture, delivering gentle humor spiked with a child's-eye view of human foibles.

One of the strip's most endearing qualities was its constancy.

The long-suffering Charlie Brown still faced misfortune with a mild, "Good grief!" Tart-tongued Lucy still handed out advice at a nickel a pop, a joke that started as a parody of a lemonade stand. And Snoopy, Charlie Brown's wise-but-weird beagle, still 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 had a clause in his contract dictating the strip had to end with his death. While battling cancer, he opted to retire it right then, saying he wanted to focus on his health and family without the worry of a daily deadline.

"Why do musicians compose symphonies and poets write poems?" he once said. "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."

In his final daily strip, published Jan. 3, 2000, a thoughtful Snoopy sat atop his doghouse with his typewriter. In a text message signed by Schulz, he thanked fans for their "wonderful support and love."

"Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them," the message read.

Although he remained largely a private person, the strip brought Schulz international fame. He won 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 rerun immortality, and many other specials followed.

There was a hit musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," with Gary Burghoff, later Radar O'Reilly on "M-A-S-H," playing Charlie. The book "The Gospel According to Peanuts" explored the philosophical and religious implications of the strip.

When Schulz announced his retirement, Mort Walker, the creator of comic strips "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois," said he and Schulz wept when they spoke on the phone.

"He did something entirely different from what all the rest of us did. I write and draw funny pictures and slapstick; it's a joke a day," Walker said at the time. "He delved into the psyche of children and the fears and the rejections that we all felt as children."

The characters also appeared on sheets, stationery and countless other products. Schulz several times was listed as one of Forbes magazine's best-paid entertainers, most recently in 1996, when his 1995-96 income was estiamted at $33 million, ranking him No. 30 on the magazine's list.

In 1990, when the Peanuts gang turned 40, the government of France named Schulz Commander of Arts and Letters, one of that country's highest awards for excellence in the arts.

Despite the success, Schulz struggled with depression and anxiety, according to his biographer, Rheta Grimsley Johnson. But the struggle only improved his work, she found, as he poured those feelings of rejection and uncertainty into the strip and turned 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 was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Nov. 26, 1922, and 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 the named changed to Peanuts, even though, he recalled later, he didn't much like the name.

The popularity of the strip soared in October 1965 when Snoopy turned his doghouse into a Sopwith Camel for the first of many engagements with the Baron. The following year, a group called the Royal Guardsmen had a No. 2 single, "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron."

Charlie Brown, named after a friend at art school, was to some extent the cartoonist's alter ego, and Snoopy was inspired by a dog he had as a child that Schulz recalled as "the smartest and most uncontrollable dog that I have ever seen." The little red-haired girl, Charlie Brown's unrequited love, was based on a girlfriend who rejected Schulz's proposal of marriage in 1950, according to Johnson.

Schulz went on to marry Joyce Halverson in 1951. They divorced in 1972 and he married Jeannie Forsyth two years later.

In his later years, he spent much of his time at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, about 60 miles north of San Francisco, where he frequently played hockey or sipped coffee at the rink's Warm Puppy snack bar.

When "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" was revived on Broadway in 1999, it had a multiethnic cast that at first concerned Shulz. He said he wasn't racist but, "I thought, `This is mine. I did this thing. Nobody helped me. I did the whole thing and now you're going to come in and show me how wonderfully open-minded and liberal you are.' "

He said he finally was persuaded that unorthodox casting was "a very New York thing to do."

"So I said, `Well, if that's what they're going to do, all right,' " he said. "If ... people are willing to accept it, willing to accept that Lucy's leaning on the piano playing up to a black Schroeder. All right, let's see how it goes."

"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz dies as final strip is published

February 13, 2000

By Mary Ann Lickteig
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- For months, fans have tried to figure out how they would survive without their favorite comic strip. Now, they'll have to struggle on without the "Peanuts" creator as well.

Fans have poured out their feelings in the months since Charles Schulz announced he would end the most widely syndicated comic strip in history.

His final new strip was published Sunday. Late Saturday night, he died in his sleep at his home in Santa Rosa. Only his wife was with him, said his son, Craig Schulz.

In the the months before Schulz succumbed to colon cancer, readers groaned at the prospect of life without Charlie Brown and Lucy, dispensing advice from her psychiatrist stand.

"I have loved that round-headed kid since I was 4 years old," said Justin Gage of Hampstead, N.H. "And with all the practice in the world, I honestly, still, at 31, can't keep my kite out of the trees in my backyard."

Schulz's characters showed up on people's doorsteps every single day for nearly 50 years. They brought distinct personalities, hopes, fears and foibles. Schroeder carted a toy piano. Linus brought his blue blanket. And people took them in.

Julian McCarthy, a 43-year-old engineer from Kingston-upon-Thames, England, said "Peanuts" characters make you happy but also "contact your conscience and make you reflect on a course of action, something maybe you've said or done."

They'll be lifelong friends, he says, even though Schulz's contract stipulates that no one else will draw the strip again.

In December, shortly after he was diagnosed with colon cancer and suffered a series of small strokes during abdominal surgery, the 77-year-old cartoonist decided his deadlines had become too rigorous. It was time to stop.

His daily strips ran out last month. United Feature Syndicate will continue offering old panels for comics pages.

Fellow cartoonists penned tributes. "AACK! I can't stand it!!" Cathy shouted as she read the last new daily "Peanuts" strip.

And ordinary fans, from coffee shops to the White House, tried to express their gratitude and explain what the strip has meant to them, writing to newspapers and sending sentiments into cyberspace.

A hundred letters a day arrived in recent weeks at Schulz's studio, located at 1 Snoopy Place in Santa Rosa -- down from the 500 per day that had arrived after he announced his retirement in November.

At one point, Schulz stopped by and saw boxes of them in the conference room. "What is all this?" he asked secretary Edna Poehner.

"Your love letters," she said.

"All I did was draw pictures," he said.

No, the letter writers say; he changed lives.

A lot of flesh-and-blood people admit they have been crying, grieving for a troupe of two-dimensional children, a superior beagle and a plucky little bird.

"I know it is just ink on a page," said 25-year-old Adam Smith of Hoover, Ala., "but to those of us who loved them, the gang is very, very, real."

Mari Pappas credited them with shepherding her to adulthood. "Without going into detail, my childhood could best be termed `lousy' by just about anyone's standards," the 38-year-old Reston, Va., woman said. "But faith in God plus the incredible humor, tremendous art and wise counsel of the `Peanuts' gang pulled me through difficult moment after difficult moment."

Pappas watched Peanuts characters wrestle with insecurities and failures. They dealt with their struggles in a sophisticated manner, she said. "It made me realize that I was not alone in having problems that were of a serious nature."

In his characters, Schulz gave us enough detail to recognize personality types but little enough so that we could still see ourselves in them, said Boston College sociology professor Paul Schervish. "We so identify with them because they are not presented as free from dilemma," he said. "That's why it's so powerful ... because that's our life."

Sharona Elfus-Schatzkin met Frieda and learned that she could be beautiful. "I grew up in the era of long straight hair and bell bottoms pants," the Rohnert Park, Calif., woman said. "I wanted straight hair so bad I would torture myself with large orange juice cans and an iron to create the illusion that my hair was as straight as a board. ... Then along came Frieda, who was so proud of her naturally curly hair."

Charlie Brown's cerebral sidekick, Linus, is the most intellectual yet most innocent member of the cast. "How many cartoon characters who are little kids can quote Bible scripture without batting an eye and believe in something like the Great Pumpkin at the same time?" asked Susan Namath of Palm Harbor, Fla.

Lucy's little brother may have needed a security blanket, but he rarely doubted his convictions, said Adam Smith. "Linus taught us that our beliefs are our own. No one can or should tell us what to believe." Smith clung to that conviction as a psychology student when his classmates trumpeted their atheistic views, challenging his belief in God.

"Peanuts" helped Louis Arata get through school, too. While Peppermint Patty struggled -- "Mark the spot where you last saw me. Mark the spot where I drown in a sea of `D minuses' and `incompletes,' " she said -- "Peanuts" helped Arata pass a college course called "The Bible as Literature."

"So many times during tests, I could recall what book a quotation was from because I could relate it back to a comic strip," he said. He is 35 now, and the director of admissions in the humanities division at the University of Chicago.

The Rev. Robert Short of Monticello, Ark., has lectured for 35 years about the theological implications of "Peanuts."

"The best way to look at the strip, from my perspective, is that it frequently is like the parables in the New Testament," he said.

Schulz's first "Peanuts" strip was published in seven newspapers on Oct. 2, 1950.

It showed Shermy and Patty sitting on a curb watching Charlie Brown approach. "Well! Here comes ol' Charlie Brown!" Shermy says. "Good ol' Charlie Brown ... Yes, sir! ... Good ol' Charlie Brown. ... How I hate him!"

Schulz said he regretted using the harsh punch line, but he introduced an unforgettable character.

No one knew it then, but the day Charlie Brown walked onto that page, he embarked on 50 years of failed attempts, foiled hopes and near misses. And yet, week after week, he walked back onto the page.

His angst mirrored his creator's. When he was a high school senior, Schulz submitted drawings for the school yearbook, and they were rejected. Twenty-five years later, when his classmates planned a reunion, Schulz was on the "whatever happened to" list.

Even though his strip was published in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries, Schulz, a man who said "Good grief" in real life, wished he was "a better drawer." He never seemed to believe his success.

How much proof did he need?

His name is in the dictionary (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). National Cartoonists Society president Daryl Cagle considers him the most successful artist in history. The Rev. Short says his characters often speak the word of God. In a tribute to Schulz, President Clinton said Charlie Brown and his friends "taught us all a little more about what makes us human."

Still, Schulz didn't believe. He was mystified by the reaction to his retirement. "It is amazing that they ... think that what I do was good," he said.

Peter Sledzianowski believed. The second-grader from Simpsonville, S.C., wrote to Schulz: "I like your comic strips. They air (sic) very funny. You draw well."

The boy's voice joined thousands, with a giant dialogue balloon floating above them: "YOU WERE A GOOD CARTOONIST, CHARLES SCHULZ!!"

Camp Snoopy honors Schulz

February 13, 2000

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Camp Snoopy this weekend is honoring the memory of Charles Schulz, who made the Mall of America amusement park and all things "Peanuts" possible.

A memorial to Schulz, a Twin Cities native, was set up Saturday at the park and will remain on display through Monday. It includes a photo of Schulz, who died Feb. 12 at age 77, floral arrangements and various "Peanuts" comic strips.

Visitors can buy small bouquets to contribute to the memorial, which is in the park at Snoopy's larger-than-life dog dish. Proceeds from the flower sales will benefit, in Schulz's name, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. Also, "So Long, Sparky" signs are hung throughout the park. Friends and family members called Schulz "Sparky" for more than 70 years.

Schulz, who died from complications of colon cancer, had announced in mid-December that he would retire Jan. 4. His last strip was published Feb. 13, a Sunday.

On Monday, Minnesota will honor Schulz by lowering flags to half-staff on all state buildings.

Also Monday, a public memorial is scheduled in Santa Rosa, Calif., at the Luther Burbank Center. Schulz lived in Sonoma County.

At cartoon museum, "Peanuts" fans mourn Charles M. Schulz

February 13, 2000

By Karin Meadows
The Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Florida -- Larry Brokahn placed a bouquet of daisies beneath a large statue of Charlie Brown holding the end of a string and looking up at a yellow kite tangled in a tree.

At the feet of the cartoon character dubbed "Blockhead" by friend Lucy is a sign that reads: "Keep Off The Grass."

"Charlie Brown couldn't do anything right, but he had a lot of great friends, which is typical of most people," said 39-year-old Brokahn, who went to the International Museum of Cartoon Art on Sunday in remembrance of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.

The cartoon strip icon died Saturday night in his sleep at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 77.

"He taught us it was OK to lose," Brokahn said.

Schulz's legacy is documented in this colorful museum through an expansive collection of memorabilia on loan from Freddi Margolin, of Long Island, N.Y., who is sometimes called "the Snoopy lady."

The artist behind the most widely syndicated comic strip in history passed away just as his final Sunday strip -- a poignant farewell to his readers -- was headed for the nation's newsstands.

The mood was somber Sunday among those viewing the museum's collection of funny pages.

Visitors trickling in to view Snoopy lunch boxes, NASA paraphernalia bearing Snoopy and Charlie Brown images for the space program and some of Schulz's original drawings were surprised to learn of the cartoonist's death.

"We just read the last strip this morning," said Brigitte Chavaillaz, a Boca Raton resident and native of Switzerland who toured the museum with her husband, Pierre. "It is amazing we planned to do this today. How strange."

Chavaillaz, 47, said she grew up reading Peanuts in French. Schulz wasn't just an American icon, he was loved internationally, she said.

"It was a part of our growing up, too. It was a part of our culture," she said.

The museum exhibit kicked off on Oct. 2, the same day Schulz's first Peanuts strip appeared back in 1950. Operations director Jeanne Greever said the display had been scheduled to end Jan. 30, but was extended to the beginning of April when interest rose after Schulz announced his retirement in November because of he was suffering from colon cancer.

Greever found a red rose outside the museum's front door Sunday morning before its noon opening. The flower was placed beneath an oil portrait of Schulz that also depicts Snoopy lying atop his snow-covered doghouse in the background.

"I said when they called me: `It's not true,' " the tearful Greever recalled while standing next to the painting, a black sash draped in the left hand corner. "It's so sad, like he knew it was time for him to go."

Giuliana Fann called the Sunday visit she, her husband David and their 3-year-old son Wills paid to the Peanuts exhibit serendipitous.

The New York couple drove by the museum Saturday night and decided to return on Sunday. Wills loves Snoopy, a doll in whose likeness was flying around overhead in a World War I ace pilot outfit proclaiming "Curse you, Red Baron."

It is unusual that the little boy enjoys the Peanuts characters as much as she and her husband, both 36, did as children, Fann said.

"He appealed to both adults and children," David Fann said about Schulz as Wills peered inside a large red doghouse topped with a snoozing Snoopy and his bird friend, Woodstock.

"He was a genius who transcended generations and epitomized American society as it changed."

Clinton Says Schulz, "Peanuts" Will Not Be Forgotten

February 13, 2000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Clinton on Sunday mourned the death of "Peanuts" comic strip creator Charles Schulz, saying the artist and his characters would live on in the memories of their fans.

"On the day that our newspapers print his very last `Peanuts' strip, it is especially poignant that we mourn the passing of Charles Schulz himself," Clinton said in a written statement.

Schulz, 77, died of a heart attack late Saturday, the day before his final strip ran in newspapers. Schulz had given up the strip to battle colon cancer.

Clinton said, "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.

"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.

"Today, in his final strip, Charles Shulz writes, `Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them...' We can say with certainty that we will never forget them, or their creator, or the many gifts he has given us all," the president said.

Knott's Berry Farm Joins the World in Mourning the Death of Charles M. Schulz

February 13, 2000

BUENA PARK, California (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Knott's Berry Farm joins "Peanuts" fans throughout the world in mourning the death of Charles M. Schulz and extends its deepest sympathies to the Schulz Family. Knott's and the world have indeed lost a great friend.

Knott's has been honored to be able to work with Schulz since the opening of Camp Snoopy in 1983, and remains committed to continuing a small part of his legacy through "Peanuts" character appearances, themed attractions and entertainment offerings.

Knott's has dedicated its upcoming, five-month "Peanuts" 50th Anniversary celebration, beginning April 8, to the beloved cartoonist.

World mourns Charles Schulz

Santa Rosa cartoonist died in his sleep at home

February 14, 2000

By Chris Smith
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

All day Saturday, as newspapers around the world prepared to share the final new "Peanuts" comic strip with readers, cartoonist Charles M. "Sparky" Schulz was moving slowly.

Although terribly tired, he joked with a couple of pals while watching afternoon golf on TV, then went to a daughter's house for supper. He was dragging when he arrived back home.

"He was just completely tired," Jeannie Schulz said Sunday from her saddened home in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa. "He said he didn't feel right."

Before bedtime, a neighbor who's a physician came over to check on him. When the 77-year-old Schulz turned in at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, it seemed he had made it through another of the better-or-lesser days that have come since he was diagnosed with colon cancer 13 weeks ago.

By about 10 p.m., he was gone.

"He literally died in his sleep," his wife said.

On Sunday morning, millions of fans around the world learned of his death at about the same time they read his last strip, a farewell that he wrote several weeks ago and signed with a shaky hand.

Word that the soft-spoken king of the comics page had died spread across the world, equally shocking preschoolers who loved Snoopy and white-haired fans who had for nearly 50 years savored the thoroughly human longings and misadventures of the Charlie Brown gang.

Although everyone knew these past four months that Schulz was ill and undergoing chemotherapy, the suddenness of his death caught the world by surprise. Cartoonist Rich Kirkman, who lives outside of Phoenix and draws "Baby Blues," was stunned to hear the announcement on CNN Sunday morning because he'd spoken to Schulz by phone on Friday.

"He sounded stronger, his voice was better," Kirkman said. He said Schulz told him he hoped to go to the national convention of cartoonists coming in May to New York City.

Kirkman said Schulz was quite animated and excited as he told how earlier that same day he'd gone skating at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena with his daughter Jill. "I think what got him so upbeat was that he'd been skating," Kirkman said.

Others close to Schulz, not long ago a fierce competitor in senior ice hockey, said he was clearly delighted Friday to be back on the ice, with his daughter steadying him on one arm and a friend on the other.

"It made him feel good," his wife said. She said he did remark after the session that it was "a long way from the hockey he used to play."

Whether or not it wore on Schulz, this past weekend was significant to millions of his readers who anticipated Sunday as the day his last original color strip would appear in newspapers. From today on, all daily and Sunday "Peanuts" strips will be re-runs.

"On the day that our newspapers print his very last `Peanuts' strip," President Clinton said Sunday in a statement, "it is especially poignant that we mourn the passing of Charles Schulz himself."

The cartoonist's wife said that while it does seem ironic that Schulz died just as Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcie were appearing in their final original Sunday strip, "I don't think it had any specific meaning to him."

Jeannie Schulz said that for her husband, the bitterest pill came back in December, when he realized after a cancer diagnosis, an emergency surgery and a cluster of strokes, that his career was over.

After that, she said, "there really wasn't much more that he wanted to do.

"He had worked really hard," she said of the man who, even as he approached age 77, went five days a week to the studio near his Redwood Empire Ice Arena on West Steele Lane, in Santa Rosa, and drew the world's No. 1 comic strip.

"I don't want to say he wore himself out, but I don't think it would have been possible for him to find anything to replace what he loved to do."

She said she and Schulz's children and stepchildren are planning a public memorial service that likely will be held in Santa Rosa sometime next week. She said her husband will be buried in Santa Rosa after a private family funeral.

Schulz, who came to Sonoma County from his native Minnesota in 1958, wanted just to draw for the funny papers. He was a doodler of comics who seemed genuinely surprised that he became fabulously famous and rich, that he was featured on the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek and, more recently, that people wanted to give him awards as grand as the proposed Congressional Medal of Honor.

A close friend and golf partner, Father Gary Lombardi of Petaluma, said Schulz never acted like the head of a multimillion-dollar empire of comics, books, movies and licensed "Peanuts" merchandise. The "Peanuts" strips, merchandise and product endorsements brought in $1.1 billion a year; Schulz was said to have earned about $30 million to $40 million annually.

"He lived the most simple life," Lombardi said. "All he wanted to do was draw."

Right up until mid-November, when Schulz fell ill with cancer and a clogged artery that required emergency surgery, he went five days a week to his studio.

What made him the master, friends and fellow cartoonists said, was that he managed to make the lowly newspaper funnies real and human, and capable of tapping the heart strings as well as the funny bone.

"Again and again, you hear cartoonists say he was their inspiration," said Greg Evans of San Diego, creator of the realistic teens in the "Luann" strip. "I might have been a car mechanic if it were not for Charles Schulz."

Evans said that before "Peanuts," kids in comics were two-dimensional rascals who stole apples and got chased down the street by cops. Schulz made them meaningful, he said, by revealing their wisdom, along with their faults and insecurities.

"Sparky was just in touch with the incomprehensibility of life," Lombardi said. "He was able to see the underside of life, but it did not deter his faith. He really was Charlie Brown."

Schulz once said, "All the loves in the strip are unrequited, all the baseball games are lost, all the test scores are D-minuses, the Great Pumpkin never comes and the football is always pulled away."

Cartoonist Lynn Johnston of Ontario, creator of the Canadian family in the strip "For Better or For Worse," said it's clear to her that Schulz was not only the real-life Charlie Brown, but was "every one of the characters he drew."

She said Sparky Schulz could be every bit as grumpy as Lucy, as lyrical as Linus, as fatalistic as Charlie Brown and as light-hearted as Woodstock.

"He was a complex, wonderful person," Johnston said. And whatever his demeanor, she said, he was honest.

"If he liked your work, he'd tell you. And if he didn't like it, he'd tell you. His honesty was painful sometimes."

Johnston said she'll miss his smile and looks forward to the day that young, new cartoonists ask her, "Did you really know Sparky Schulz? What was he like?"

"He was absolutely the best cartoonist there has been," said Michael Jantze of Portland, creator of "The Norm." Jantze said that since Schulz changed the art of cartooning, the strips that followed "are all `Peanuts,' dressed up in different clothing."

The cartoonists who regarded Schulz as the master are not mourning alone. Among those praising the modest and generous artist are members of a great number of non-profit, educational, veterans and other organizations with whom he shared his wealth.

The Schulzes donated $5 million to Sonoma State University, the gift set aside in an endowment to fund the operations of the new $41 million information technology center and library that will open in August.

"Such a significant contribution makes a difference forever in our ability to provide services, to purchase journals and books," said Jim Meyer, SSU's vice president for development. He said the Schulzes' generosity has extended to many organizations in Sonoma County, including Family Services Agency, Canine Companions for Independence, the Sonoma County Museum, Channel 22, the Rohnert Park Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Kay Marquet, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Foundation, said Charles and Jeannie Schulz have been extremely important to the foundation, contributing millions of dollars and Jeannie serving on the founding board of directors.

Schulz did not talk about many of his good works and contributions, but he proudly announced in October that he and Jeannie would donate $1 million for the construction of D-Day Memorial. Schulz served proudly in the Army after being drafted in 1943.

Marquet said that while the public is aware of some of the help the Schulzes have extended to people in need and myriad community causes, they also have been extremely generous "in ways that people will never know about."

Two people especially shocked and saddened to learn that Schulz died Saturday night were Dean James and Chuck Bartley, the friends who spent that afternoon with him at his home, watching the Buick Open golf tournament with him.

James said that while watching, the blimp known as Snoopy 2 flew over the tournament. Schulz joked that he was glad to see it, that he could use the money to pay his doctor bills.

His friends said Schulz spoke Saturday afternoon of hoping he'd be well enough to travel to Virginia for the Memorial Day dedication of the D-Day monument he helped to finance by donating the $1 million and acting as volunteer head of the national fund-raising campaign.

Jeannie Schulz said her husband didn't seem any different Saturday, except that he was dreadfully tired before he stretched out in bed, fell asleep and passed away.

"Did you notice that the heavens have been weeping?" she said. "It started pouring right after he died."

Staff writers Randi Rossmann and Bob Norberg contributed to this story.

Friends and fans remember Schulz's greatness

February 14, 2000

By Randi Rossmann
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Friends and fans Sunday made their way to the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, some paying their respects to world-famous cartoonist Charles Schulz and others wanting to be where they best remembered "Sparky," who was just "one of the guys."

"We can't stress enough, how much of a friend we've lost," said Phil LeBrun, who played in Schulz's weekly pick-up ice hockey games. On Sunday morning, LeBrun met three other hockey mates at the arena to reminisce and console each other.

"He was famous, but to us, he was just another guy. He wanted to be one of the guys and he was," LeBrun said.

Schulz, 77, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip, died Saturday night in his sleep at his Santa Rosa home. He had retired late last year after 50 years of drawing the strip, to battle colon cancer. His last strip ran Sunday.

Shocked and grieving arena managers, all close friends of Schulz's, lowered the arena flag to half-staff and closed the facility for the day. It will be open today.

As news of the death spread Sunday, a steady stream of mourners came by, leaving a mound of colorful bouquets, potted pink azaleas, tulips, yellow roses, cards and children's drawings. Their notes thanked Schulz for his memorable characters and included memories of favorite strips, which featured Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and others.

One pile of flowers, including an old hockey stick, grew at the door to the Warm Puppy snack shop. Others placed their gifts and flowers outside of the nearby Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop.

"We wanted to be around people who also liked him," said Janet Williams of Santa Rosa, who came with her daughter, Tori, 7, an avid fan of "Peanuts."

"I saw him every once in awhile (at the rink.) He'd wave at people. He was real nice," said Williams, who frequently brings her daughter to ice skate.

"It's a positive place to spend time together. I always tell my daughter there is no other ice skating rink close by," she said. "We thank him for it."

Ray and Cecilia Johnson of Santa Rosa brought flowers.

"To show, you know, that we care and are going to miss him," said Cecilia Johnson. "He's been a big part of Santa Rosa. Not only for Santa Rosa residents but for everybody."

"Everyone can relate to Charlie Brown and Snoopy," said Ray Johnson.

Schulz's eldest son, Monte, exhausted from being up most of the night, spent hours at the ice arena Sunday.

Sitting near his father's regular table in the Warm Puppy, Monte Schulz spoke of how his father spent his last day watching golf on TV with friends and then having dinner with his family. He also told reporters about how his father was feeling sad about the comic strip ending.

Monte Schulz said he is writing a novel and had hoped to finish it before his father died. On Saturday night, as they parted after dinner, his father told him, "Keep going, finish your book."' Monte said he will dedicate his book to his father.

While mourners paid their respects outside the arena, close friends gathered inside, including Dean James, Oakmont golf pro.

James met Schulz playing golf in 1967 and they've played countless rounds together since, including four Crosby tournaments.

"He was a very good friend who just happened to be famous," James said.

Several friends Sunday recounted how things they would do in hockey games or on the golf course or tennis court had a way of cropping up in the strip.

James said that during one particularly bad tennis game years ago he threw his racket and broke a string. That became a Sunday strip involving Snoopy thrashing his racket, said James, who received a framed copy as a gift.

Standing rinkside, and later, sitting at Schulz's table, the hockey players talked about Sparky's knack for making a good hockey shot, his quiet, generous nature and how their funny missteps on the ice often made it into the comic strip.

Roland Thibault, a hockey friend since 1964, even was made into a hockey-playing character in the strip.

Steve Lang recalled how about 20 years ago, while visiting from Maine, he walked into the arena with his hockey equipment hoping to skate, not knowing it was Schulz's game. Schulz let him join in "when he didn't know me from Adam."

And Karl Jacque talked of how years ago Schulz watched him figure skate, recommended he put on hockey skates and then brought him in to the weekly hockey games. Schulz also encouraged him to become a hockey referee for a children's league, "one of the most satisfying things of my life."

Tuesday night was their game night and they plan to be there this week, gathering for the typical pre-game chat session in the Warm Puppy before taking to the ice.

"We'll probably still come out on Tuesday. Sparky would have wanted us to play," LeBrun said. "His seat's going to be vacant, out of respect."

Schulz was known to walk daily from his studio across the street to the Warm Puppy, for a chance to read the paper and have coffee.

"It's going to be tough" to see that empty seat, said Jim Doe, 30-year manager of Snoopy's Gallery.

Doe remembered Schulz as a "first class" man who generated loyalty and love from decades of arena employees, many of whom called Sunday "to reflect on the good times."

"So many people Sparky touched," he said.

His comments were echoed by Richard Dwyer, another 30-year friend of Schulz's. Dwyer skated for years in the ice arena shows and for the past five years worked for Schulz as corporate general manager.

"He contributed unbelievably to my life," Dwyer said. "I'm going to miss him terribly."

He said those who knew Schulz knew he didn't like special attention, so his employees and close friends quietly put him on a pedestal.

"We didn't tell him," he said. "We just put him on it. He was a hero to all of us."

"He was the heartbeat of the rink. He'll want it to always remain a wonderful spot for everybody."

Schulz Saw a Future Beyond Strip

February 14, 2000

Phil Frank
San Francisco Chronicle Cartoonist

SANTA ROSA -- It was a great life, Charles Schulz.

Sparky Schulz, as he was known to his friends and family, was a rare individual who knew that real success is the ability to express yourself and that real wealth comes from giving to others. He certainly excelled at both in his own life, which ended Saturday night when he died in his sleep. In the process, the creator of Peanuts enriched our lives, too.

There will be many things written about the timing of his passing the night before his goodbye strip appeared in newspapers around the world. Cartoonists are complicated people. They are often like Schulz -- shy, even introverted. They turned to cartooning as kids, as a private way to express themselves, not as a way to find fame. Occasionally, as in Schulz's case, their work strikes a chord with people, and they are thrust upon the world's stage and into a limelight they did not necessarily seek.

His involvement with the creation and daily production of the cartoon, from the idea to the finished art, was total for 50 years, every day, without assistants. And then it had to end, when colon cancer and a series of small strokes made him too ill to work. The desire was there but not the energy. When he spoke to his wife, Jean, after the operation, it was painfully clear that the only choice was to stop doing the cartoon.

"What am I going to do?" he said. "This has been my life."

But Schulz was actually enjoying himself, even after he turned in the final strip. When I tried to call him at home the other day to say hello and wish him well, I expected to be filtered through a protective ring of family or assistants. Instead, it was Schulz himself who answered with that familiar, mellifluous "Hellooo."

He sounded great. He'd been through a rough couple of months with his health, but he was thinking and talking about the future, and he was optimistic about it. There was the National Cartoonists Society convention in New York in the spring, which he and his wife were looking forward to, especially since a tribute to him was planned. His only worry was that they would have to get to Bedford, Vermont, for the dedication of the D-Day Memorial immediately afterward.

He was also working on a script for a video involving Charlie Brown, and although his doctor advised that he do some sketching, about all he was doing was a bit of "doodling."

At one point in the conversation, his voice jumped an octave. He laughed and apologized, saying that he was having some problems with his speaking as a result of the strokes he had during his operation. He said the chemotherapy treatments were no fun either, but bearable. He didn't linger on the subject -- the last thing he wanted was sympathy.

So instead, we talked about all the tributes in the press. He was a bit embarrassed by all the fuss but also quite honored.

And then it was time to say goodbye. I had the feeling that he was doing well and that with a bit of patience, he would bounce back. We said goodbye, and I said I'd check in again pretty soon. He said. "You do that."

Clearly, he expected to get better. Jean expected it, too. But when she came to bed a half hour after bringing Sparky a glass of water Saturday evening, he was gone.

The many tributes that appeared recently about him may have been a bit hard for such a modest, private person, but as Jean said yesterday, "He told me he was glad to be alive to see them."

His spirit was a big spirit, and that part of Charles Schulz will go on living in the memories of millions of readers who will remember the little folks with the big thoughts and the dog who thought he was a World War I pilot.

You Were a Good Man, Charles Schulz

Fans mourn cartoonist who died hours before farewell Peanuts strip ran

February 14, 2000

By Anastasia Hendrix
The San Francisco Examiner

SANTA ROSA, California -- The whimsical cast of kids and pets whose struggles were detailed in the "Peanuts" comic strip needed their creator, Charles M. Schulz, to give them life.

And it seems he could not live without them either.

In a coincidence almost too uncanny to be imagined, Schultz, 77, died in his sleep just hours before morning newspapers with the final Sunday strip were delivered to homes across the country.

His wife, Jeannie, who was with him, said plans for a public memorial service are pending, although the family will have a private service and burial.

Schulz had retired from writing because of treatments for colon cancer, but his wife said his health seemed to be improving lately and he had been enjoying the admiring media tributes about the end of the half-century series that featured Snoopy the beagle, his feathered friend Woodstock and the forever- frustrated Charlie Brown.

"He just said the day before yesterday to someone, " `I'm so glad I'm alive to hear it all,' " his wife said.

President Clinton on Sunday mourned Schulz' death, too, saying the artist and his characters would live on in the memories of their fans.

"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," Clinton said.

"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 outpouring continued Sunday as friends, family members and fans gathered at Snoopy's Redwood Empire Ice Arena, the skating rink Schulz built here and frequented as a second home.

The rink was closed in remembrance, and the flag in front flew at half-staff. Wreaths hung on the front door; flowers and cards were arranged in makeshift memorials outside.

Schulz's oldest son, Monte, arrived in the afternoon, and said it was difficult for his father to face the end of the comic strip as his health began to fail.

"He (couldn't) draw the characters any more, and it was his life work," said Monte Schulz, 48. "Everybody lives for a certain purpose, everybody has their joys and their inspirations, and drawing and having a strip was his."

Another added bit of irony, he said, is that the state of California had proclaimed Sunday to be "Charles M. Schulz Day" in his honor.

Even the massive rains began after his death, "so it really was a dark and stormy night," said Schulz's longtime assistant, Edna Poehner, referring to the way Snoopy often began his typewritten dispatches.

The end of Schulz's work coinciding so closely with the end of his life is "prophetic," said Amy Lago, his editor for the past five years at United Feature Syndicate. "I think this is the way he would've wanted it," she said. "As if he had written it that way."

"It's amazing that he dies just before his last strip is published," said Lynn Johnston, whose "For Better or for Worse," like "Peanuts," appears in more than 2,000 newspapers around the world. Such an ending, she said, was "as if he had written it that way."

Schulz had talked with Johnston around Christmas as she sat at the foot of his hospital bed.

"He said, `Isn't it amazing how you have no control over your real life?' " she recalled. "You control all these characters and the lives they live. You decide when they get up in the morning, when they're going to fight with their friends, when you're going to lose the game.'

"You have no way of writing your own story," she said. "But I think, in a way, he did."

The stories Schulz wrote for "Peanuts" centered on the hard-luck Charlie Brown, his highly imaginative dog Snoopy, the constantly crabby Lucy, her wise-beyond-his-years brother Linus, sports nut Peppermint Patty and other characters. Charlie Brown persevered despite the perils of kite-eating trees, managing a losing baseball team and being unable to kick a football before Lucy yanks it away.

From this seemingly gloom-and-doom environment, Schulz created a funny, thoughtful, even philosophical strip drawn in what one cartoonist called a "deceptively simple" style.

"It's weird, almost like he waited for this," said 18-year-old Rebecca McAllister, who skates at the rink regularly. She and her sister, Molly, had come to buy tape for their skates but immediately sensed something was wrong when they pulled into the parking lot.

"I knew it as soon as I saw all the flowers," Molly McAllister said tearfully, after burying her face in her hands when she learned the news.

A familiar presence at the ice rink

Though the sisters did not know Schulz well, his was a familiar face at the rink, they said.

Known to his closest circle of friends as "Sparky" (a childhood nickname an uncle bestowed on him after after the horse Sparkplug in the comic strip "Barney Google"), Schulz could be found almost daily at his special table: a small, round one near the back of the cozy eating area in front of the rink.

A plastic placard with the word "RESERVED" sat on the table next to a small vase of pink carnations, salt-and-pepper shakers and sugar packets.

"He was the whole spirit, the whole heart of this rink. We can never recapture it," said Richard Dwyer, the rink's corporate general manager.

"It was a magical time with him here," he said. "I was hoping we'd have him forever. I never wanted to accept that there would be a time without Sparky here."

In memory of Schulz's love for the rink and those who frequented it, Dwyer said the rink will re-open Monday and will have two free skating sessions open to the public. One will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., another will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Schulz had just skated at the rink last Friday, Dwyer said. "He was enjoying it because he felt he was getting back his strength. It was just wonderful," he said, looking out onto the empty ice rink through a glass window. "That's why this is such a shock for me."

Longtime skater, hockey player

Skating and playing ice hockey were longtime passions for the Minnesota native, said Phil Le Brun, who played ice hockey with Schulz every Tuesday at the rink for the last 22 years.

"He was very competitive ... a great player," said LeBrun of Schulz, who played right wing for the team they named the Great Pumpkins.

He will remember Schulz's generosity most, he said, since he funded not only the ice rink, but also an outdoor roller skating rink and a softball field.

City leaders had already been musing over ways to immortalize Santa Rosa's famous yet low-profile favorite son. Street names and buildings were ruled out in favor of commissioning a sculpture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy to sit in Railroad Square.

But for now, many continue to flock to the ice rink to pay their respects and share their collective grief.

Nan Fraser of Windsor brought a bouquet of white tulips and laid them on top of the "Star of Fame" outside the skate shop.

"I never met him but I felt like I knew him through his little characters," she said. Her children, all now adults, were avid fans as well.

"His cartoon was so simple, but it imparted the message that if you kept trying, you could get there," she said.

Nearby was a bouquet of daisies with a drawing of Peppermint Patty shouting "Aaughh!"

But perhaps one simple blue envelope tied to the front gate of the skate shop said it best: "You were a good man, Charlie Brown."

No strip has been more successful than "Peanuts." It is the most widely syndicated comic strip in history, appearing in some 2,600 newspapers, reaching an audience of more than 355 million people in 75 countries and in 21 languages.

TV specials, movies, merchandise

The "Peanuts" phenomenon spread to TV specials, movies, a wide variety of merchandise, stage productions, blimps, parade floats, Super Bowl shows and even moon missions (in 1969, the command module and lunar module of Apollo X were nicknamed Charlie Brown and Snoopy, respectively).

"He was the first cartoonist to use psychological humor and situations, and that revolutionized the industry," said "Bizarro" cartoonist Dan Piraro of Dallas. "He's the most important cartoonist of the 20th century, if there is such a thing."

"("Peanuts") really is like the genesis of cartooning. Everything you see in contemporary strips comes from Charles Schulz," said Mike Peters, creator of "Mother Goose & Grimm" and a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist. "The characters are as much a part of Americana as the Statue of Liberty."

In addition to his wife, Jeannie, and son Monte, Schulz is survived by daughter Meredith Hodges of Loveland, Colo.;, daughter Jill Transki of Santa Barbara; daughter Amy Johnson of Alpine, Utah; and son Craig Schulz of Santa Rosa.

He is also survived by stepson Brooke Clyde of Santa Rosa, stepdaughter Lisa Brockway of Ashland, Ore., and 18 grandchildren.

Cartoonist remembers Peanuts creator

Charles Schulz made millions of people laugh

February 14, 2000

By Vit Wagner
With files from Alan Barnes
The Toronto Star

Lynn Johnston, creator of the popular daily comic strip For Better Or For Worse, lost a cherished mentor, colleague and friend with the passing early yesterday of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz.

As chance would have it, today's instalment of For Better Or For Worse, drawn more than two months ago, is a Valentine's Day tribute to Schulz -- the man Johnston affectionately knew as "Sparky" -- and his wife Jean.

"I wondered at the time if Sparky would still be alive when it came out," said Johnston yesterday from her home in Corbeil, Ontario, near North Bay.

"But he had already seen it. He had a copy of it sent to him by a friend at the Los Angeles Times. He knew that I had done it for him and Jeannie."

Schulz died of a heart attack Saturday night at the age of 77 after battling colon cancer.

The timing of today's strip is only slightly less remarkable than the fact that Schulz's death occurred on the very weekend that his final colour strip appeared in The Star and other papers across North America.

"It's almost as if he choreographed that," said Johnston, 52, her voice frequently quavering with emotion. "In some ways, I think there was some other hand involved. It was just too much of a coincidence."

Johnston, whose strip started in 1979, recalled her first encounter with Schulz 15 years ago. "He phoned me one day. He said, `Hi, this is Charles Schulz and I just wanted to let you know I like your work.'

"I said, `Who?' and he said, rather apologetically, `I do Peanuts?'

"I was so shocked I had to sit down," Johnston recalled. "I said, `Excuse me, my knees are weak'."

Johnston first Schulz face to face in 1986 in Washington at the Ruben Awards, "sort of the Oscars of our industry," she said.

"He has always been very generous with his praise or even with his criticisms," Johnston said, "so when he did call I was thrilled and we became very good friends after that."

She visited Schulz at least once a year during their long friendship. The last time was shortly after Christmas, when she sat with him in his hospital room in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco.

"Starting out as a cartoonist," said Johnston, whose own strip is in its 20th year of publication, "I never expected to meet the creator of Peanuts, never expected to visit his home, never expected to borrow his car, never expected to sit on his hospital bed and tell him how much I loved him before he died."

That final encounter occurred shortly after Schulz announced his retirement. Johnston remembers that he joked about not having to meet any more deadlines.

"He tried to deal with it in a light-hearted way, but you could tell he was exhausted.

"His death really affects all of us in the industry. I remember when I first started out I spoke to Jim Davis, who does Garfield. And he said, `We're the new kids on the block. Someday we'll be the old guard and the young cartoonists will come up to us and say, `Did you really know Charles Schulz?'

"Yes, I knew Charles Schulz. I knew him very well. And I loved him very dearly."

Convincing Schulz of the depth of that affection was not easy, said Johnston, adding that her friend shared many of the insecurities of his legendary protagonist, Charlie Brown.

"He was a complicated person," she said. "Despite the fact that he was well-loved, he was never sure that he was sincerely loved."

Johnston, a devoted Peanuts follower for many years before she met its creator, was drawn to the strip because of its strong female characters, including Charlie Brown's sister, Sally, his long-standing nemesis, Lucy, and the street-wise Peppermint Patty.

"To me, as a young person growing up, I felt very encouraged by the mental toughness of his female characters because comic-book women were always complete twits or they were voluptuous bimbos hanging on the leg of some super hulk."

Johnston expressed a particular admiration for the strips in which Lucy offers psychiatric counseling for five cents a session.

"He was one of the first to talk openly about failure, disappointment, loss and confusion -- all the things that kids feel and sense.

"It came from the fact that he himself had gone to seek therapy and was open enough to say so ... It was cutting edge at the time."

Space shuttle astronauts pay tribute to Charles Schulz

February 14, 2000


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The astronauts aboard spaceshuttle Endeavour took time out from their Earth-mapping mission to pay tribute to "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz.

Mission Control informed the six astronauts of the cartoonist's death over the weekend and, late Sunday, awakened the three working the overnight shift with a recording of the piano music from the Charlie Brown television shows.

Endeavour's pilot, Dominic Gorie, called Schulz "a good space supporter."

"He's made millions of people laugh and smile for the past 50 years and, of course, all those folks who have worked with NASA know he's near and dear to us," Gorie said.

Gorie noted that the Apollo 10 command module was named Charlie Brown and the lunar module Snoopy. The spacecraft flew to the moon in May 1969, but did not land. It was the last dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

"We know that as we're flying down over you guys on the Earth, he's looking from up above on us," Gorie said.

MetLife Mourns the Passing of Charles M. Schulz

February 14, 2000

Business Wire

NEW YORK (BUSINESS WIRE) - MetLife Chairman and CEO Robert H. Benmosche was joined by John J. Creedon and Harry P. Kamen, both former CEOs, in issuing the following statement upon the death of Charles M. Schulz:

"We at MetLife join the millions of people around the world who will sorely miss the wit and wisdom of Charles Schulz," said Mr. Benmosche. "Mr. Schulz has not only brought a smile to the faces of old and young alike through his daily Peanuts comic strip, but has also given us a unique perspective as life in American society has changed over the past 50 years."

John J. Creedon (CEO from 1983 to 1989) said, "I am proud to have met with Sparky, a long time MetLife policyholder, back in 1984 and to have decided to bring Snoopy and the Peanuts characters to MetLife in 1985. Since that time, MetLife has been strongly associated with the Peanuts characters and especially Snoopy as MetLife's official company spokesbeagle. This winning combination has been successful not only in business terms, but in helping to differentiate our identity in the marketplace as well."

Harry P. Kamen (Chairman and CEO from April 1993 to June 1998, and current Board member) said, "Over the years, we have worked closely with Mr. Schulz in shaping the direction of the use of the Peanuts characters for MetLife. We are proud that he allowed us to use his beloved characters that are trusted around the world. He took an interest in the success of our collaboration as well as the future of the company."

"Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang will continue to be an important part of MetLife's image going forward," concluded Mr. Benmosche. "Although today we mourn his passing, we are confident that Mr. Schulz's work will live on, as new generations come to know and love Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts characters."

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