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El Cerrito: In memory of Lee Susman, 1917-2012

By Chris Treadway
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 12:40 am in El Cerrito, History.

Lee Susman's most memorable cartoon, published Sept. 15, 1955 after the Oakland Oaks announced they would leave the city and become the Vancouver Mounties the next year.

There’s so much to say about Lee Susman, who died Sunday at age 94, but that can wait for now. Lee, who lived in El Cerrito for many years, was one of the last great newspaper sports cartoonists and his skills continued right until the end. So we’ll let that suffice for now.

Some of Susman's classic characters are used to preview the 1952 Rose Bowl. The UCLA Bruin has yet to acquire his beret, sunglasses and cigarette holder.

A classic Oakland Tribune sports page cartoon by Lee Susman (until recently an El Cerrito resident) announces the return of baseball and the Lil Acorn mascot.

A classic Oakland Tribune sports page cartoon by Lee Susman announces the return of baseball and the Li'l Acorn mascot.

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  • LEE MCDOWELL

    The East Bay has lost a one of a kind cartoonist.
    I laughed at his stuff for over 60 years.

  • Valjean

    Second that. True story: I wrote a fan letter to Susman — I followed his ‘toons religiously in the Trib as a kid — about six years ago when I read a piece about him still kicking aaround. Just wanted to tell him how he inspired me years later. Got a package about a month later … containing two *original* ink-and-paint drawings from back in the day, signed and personalized with his little Oak character. They’re proudly framed in my man cave — as is my memory of this talented, generous man.

  • Monroe McBride

    Hey, me too! For a decade in the ’60s and ’70s, I would clip Pigskin Parade and put the cartoons in special scrapbooks. Sometimes, I would cut the artwork before my dad got home; he was never too happy when I did that. For a couple of years while I lived near Philadelphia, my grandfather would mail the cartoons to me every week. Still have the scrapbooks! About 20 years ago, I too wrote a fan letter to Susman and unexpectedly received an original drawing in return. It is framed and hanging on my wall at home. I am not going to forget than man and the pleasure he gave his readers–ever.

  • Monte Gordon

    Lee did caricature of my father Carl Gordon (prep of the week)…hanging on my wall to this day…remember dad talking of him…thanks Lee Susman

  • Keith Kuykendall

    Lee was a friend of my father(Max Kuykendall)when they served together in the navey for years in the pacific. He spoke with dad occasionally and sent personalized Christmas cards every year to our family until a few years ago when dad died. I have saved most of them. I have a colored pencil drawing of dad, a pencil drawing of my brother that Suss drew while they were stationed together in
    Guam (or somewhere) along with an original cartoon plate from the Oakland A’s days. I spoke with Lee when my dad passed and he reminisced about his time with dad over seas. I always admired Lee and became an artist myself. I will think of Lee and the stories my father told of Lee always. Keith

  • Chris Treadway

    Lee was sharp all the way to the end.
    What a great memory to treasure.

  • Brad Oliver

    As an 8 year old boy in 1972, I wrote Mr. Susman a letter telling him how much I enjoyed his work. He had responded to my letter and met me & my family for lunch in Jack London Square and had also sent me a couple of custom Birthday Cards. I re-contacted him in 2009 and although his memory was fuzzy on our initial meeting, he sent me one of his famous Christmas cards that year. He was a class act and I hope somebody within the Oakland Tribune publishes his entire work.

  • http://kentrasmussen.net Kent Rasmussen

    I left the Bay Area in 1966 but still have fond memories of Susman’s sports cartoons of the 1950s and 1960s. I grew up reading the Oakland Tribune (which I also delivered) and particularly remember Susman’s football-game cartoons. As an alum of both Cal and UCLA, I have been a lifelong Pacific conference football devotee and can attest that Susman’s images of the Cal Bear, old Stanford Indian, UCLA Bruin, USC Trojan, et al. permanently shaped my views of all those schools. I hope someone publishes a collection of his work. He was brilliant!

  • http://www.uri.edu/nra/phpBB2/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=53509 Geraldo Housewright

    Hola! I’ve been reading your website for some time now and finally got the nerve to go ahead and give you a shout out from Colorado City, Arizona. I really wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!