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Morton Sosland


1925 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Morton Sosland Morton Irvin Sosland, who led Sosland Publishing Co. for several decades and was a revered figure in the Kansas City and grain-based foods business communities, has died at the age of 93. Mr. Sosland was returning to Kansas City April 25 from a Continental Grain Co. board of directors meeting in New York and was stricken while riding home. He died soon afterward at Truman Medical Center. Mr. Sosland attended Bryant elementary school and Southwest High, began his freshman year at Harvard University in 1942 and in 1943 enlisted in the Army. He began military service in the horse cavalry at Fort Riley, Kas., and was assigned to the 13th Armored Division, Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which went to Europe soon after the invasion of France and ended the war near Salzburg, Austria. He immediately returned to Harvard and in June 1946 married Estelle Jane Glatt, his fianc‚e and friend of many years. Completing his education in a shortened post-war curriculum, Mr. Sosland joined Sosland Publishing Company in 1947, where he worked initially under the direction of his uncle, Samuel Sosland, one of the three brothers who founded the company and its The Southwestern Miller weekly magazine in 1922 (a publication later renamed Milling & Baking News). Active as a publisher and editor for most of his 72 years with the company, he also created and wrote much of the editorial page for several of the company magazines. He worked initially under the direction of his Uncle Sam, who was the principal editor of the weekly magazine and who from his early youth in Kansas City had been a journalist. Mr. Sosland wrote copy that was carefully and vigorously edited, learning "the trade" from a teacher who did not hesitate to tear up and toss in the waste basket an article that did not suit. In 1972, Mr. Sosland was at the center of national news when The Southwestern Miller broke the story of the Soviet Union's huge purchases of grain from the United States. The Russian Wheat Deal, together with the Arab oil embargo a year later, proved a watershed moment for the U.S. and the global economy. With detailed and precise secret information provided over several months by a mysterious source, Mr. Sosland's tantalizing role in breaking the news attracted great attention from the national media. For many years, Mr. Sosland was a frequent speaker before industry groups, primarily analyzing developments within various grain-based sectors grain, flour milling and baking and often looking thoughtfully toward future prospects. Beyond his involvement with the family's publishing business, he divided his time among a number of different endeavors. He served on the board of directors of both leading public and private companies.His service on the boards of companies with a considerable Kansas City presence included H&R Block, Inc., Commerce Bancshares, Inc., ERC Corporation, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City Southern Industries, Stilwell Financial, Inc., and Trans World Airlines. He also was a member of the board of Brown Shoe Co., Inc., Ingredient Technology Corp., TW Services, Inc., and Continental Grain Co. At one time, he was a director of six companies with listings on the New York Stock Exchange. Community involvement was no less a priority to Mr. Sosland and his family. The Sosland Foundation was started in 1950. And while the foundation has been an important instrument for family giving, Mr. Sosland also learned early that personal giving is equally important. He often led individual family members in supplementing foundation support of selected charitable activities, particularly in support of the Jewish causes that the family has devoted great attention to over a long period of years. Recognizing his obligations to the Jewish community, Mr. Sosland served as president and/or chairman of Jewish Family and Children's Service, Jewish Federation and Council and the Jewish Community Foundation. His activities in the general community covered a wide range. He served as chairman of Midwest Research Institute, as co-chairman of the Kansas City Area Economic Development Council, and on the boards of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Menorah Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital, Truman Medical Center Foundation, and the Jacob L. and Ella C. Loose Foundation. He was the long-time president of the Sosland Foundation and served for many years on the boards of the Hall Family Foundation, the H&R Block Foundation and the Marion and Henry Bloch Foundation. Hardly any community activity attracted his attention as strongly as did the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. He was co-chair of the Generations capital campaign that provided funding for a major current expansion of the museum, and he continued to lead fund-raising for the museum's endowment needs afterward. He undertook that effort, as he did in serving as president of the museum's Friends of Art, in tandem with his wife's long service as a trustee. The family under Morton's leadership, donated to the Nelson in the early 1990s the Shuttlecocks sculptures by the artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Highly controversial and loudly criticized when the four 17-foot tall sculptures of badminton birdies were first proposed, the initiative left Mr. Sosland in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of subject of raging news coverage. By the year 2000, the sculptures had become icons in the city, won over critics, one of whom called the Shuttlecocks a "rare example of vision winning out in Kansas City." Mr. Sosland in 1975 received what was then known as the "Mr. Kansas City Award" from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He received the Chancellor's Medal from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1978, has been a member of the Academy of Missouri Squires since 1987, and in 2002 received the Leader in Agriculture Award from Agricultural Future of America. Mr. Sosland is survived by his wife of 72 years; three children, Amy Brown of West Sussex, England; Elizabeth J. Sosland, of New York; and Charles S. Sosland (wife Jeanne) of Kansas City; grandchildren Andrew Brown (Kate), Meyer Sosland (Mindy), Sarah Sosland (Benton Smith) and Sophie Sosland (Ryan Reich); six great grandchildren; a brother Neil Sosland (Blanche) and a sister Susan Kraner (Richard). Funeral services will be held May 1 at 10:30 a.m. at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Boulevard, Kansas City, with private burial to follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Memorials are preferred to Harvesters, 3801 Topping Ave., Kansas City, MO. 64129. Online condolences @ www.louismemorialchapel.com (Arr: The Louis Memorial Chapel 816-361-5211).
Published in Kansas City Star on Apr. 28, 2019
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