Kathleen Whalen Andrews

March 12, 1937 ~ April 16, 2021 (age 84)




Kathleen's funeral will be livestreamed at:



KANSAS CITY - Kathleen Whalen Andrews, former Vice Chairman of Kansas City-based media company Andrews McMeel Universal and Chief Executive Officer of Andrews McMeel Publishing, founding Director of The Andrews Family Foundation, passed peacefully with her family by her side on April 16, 2021.

A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, Kathleen was the youngest of seven children of Leo and Isabelle Whalen. A 1959 graduate of Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Ohio, Kathleen earned a master's degree in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana in 1962, where she met her future husband, James F. Andrews.

Kathleen and Jim moved to Kansas City, where Jim worked as Managing Editor for the National Catholic Reporter and Ave Maria magazine. In 1970, Andrews McMeel Universal was founded as Universal Press Syndicate, the result of a collaboration involving Jim and Kathleen Andrews, and John and Susan McMeel. In its humble beginning, Kathleen served as Chief Financial Officer and secretary as the fledging syndicate fought its way to profitability, and was instrumental to its growth, in particular through her discovery of Ziggy, by Tom Wilson, which propelled the company into character licensing and merchandising through books, calendars, and greeting cards. Kathleen paused her full-time involvement in the company after sons Hugh and James were born, but remained closely tied to its operations.

After Jim's untimely death at the age of 44 in 1980, Kathleen returned to the company she helped create. With characteristic strength, determination, and an enduring and wry sense of humor, she worked diligently with McMeel to grow the company into the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world and a renowned publishing powerhouse, distributing the work of exceptional creators including Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Gary Larson (The Far Side®), Dear Abby, Roger Ebert, and many more. Kathleen exemplified the company's long-standing “creator first” perspective, and served as a trusted partner and friend to those represented by AMU. She retired in 2006, but her presence remains in the company's culture and heritage.

Along with McMeel, she established the James F. Andrews Memorial Scholarship Fund at Notre Dame, which underwrites students in the summer service-learning program in conjunction with the University's Alumni Clubs. The annual weekend at Notre Dame (also an opportunity for family reunions), in which students shared their experiences over the summer, was a favorite.

Since the program's inception, thousands of students have served to benefit the lives of those less fortunate in communities throughout the country and the world, providing an enduring and exceptional legacy to Jim and Kathleen Andrews.

In 1993, Kathleen was named a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame, and was named a Fellow of the Board of Trustees in 1996, the first woman to serve on the 12-member group that is the University's core governing body. She received an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame in 2003, and had been an Emeritus member of Board since 2007. Prior to the election to the Board, she served on the Advisory Council for Notre Dame's Institute for Church Life, and most recently served as a member of the Ireland Advisory Council.

Kathleen was active in local community affairs and committed to higher education throughout her life. She served on the Board of the University of Missouri at Kansa City, and the Boards of Avila College in Kansas City, Missouri, and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, from which she received honorary degrees. She was a director of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in Washington, DC, and was a Dame of the Federal Association of the Sovereign of Military Order of Malta. She was involved in numerous charitable endeavors, including Christmas in October and fundraising for Catholic Charities. As founder and chairman of the Andrews Family Foundation, she directed funding to a variety charitable causes, including St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Operation Breakthrough, The Kansas City Art Institute, The Kansas City Symphony, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

In addition, she received honorary doctorates from the University of Portland in 1994; Spring Hill College in 1995; Avila University in 2001; and Notre Dame College in Cleveland. In 2004, she was presented with the Edward Sorin Award by the Notre Dame Alumni Association, and received the Father Hesburgh Award from the Notre Dame Club of Kansas City in 2006. She received the Mother Evelyn O'Neill Award from St. Teresa's Academy in Kansas City for her community stewardship and excellence in education.

Kathleen savored spending time with family, friends, and business associates. In addition to many afternoons at Notre Dame cheering the Irish on the gridiron (through sun, sleet, rain, and snow), Kathleen enjoyed spending time with her sons and their families, as well as her sister, Annabelle, in Amelia Island, Florida; Beaver Creek, Colorado; various destinations across the country, and Ireland.

She leaves behind sons Hugh (Cynthia) and James (JoMarie), and grandchildren Mary Katherine, Anne Marie, James, and William Andrews; and Abigail and James Andrews; sister, Annabelle Whalen, and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, April 21, from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. at Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, Indiana, where a Vigil and Rosary will be prayed at 5:30 p.m.  A funeral Mass will be held Thursday, April 22, at 3:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Basilica on the Notre Dame campus. Burial service will follow at Cedar Grove Cemetery at Notre Dame. Masks are required.

Charitable donations in Kathleen's memory can be made to the James F. Andrews Scholarship Fund, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or online via link:





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