KANSAS CITY — Morton Irvin Sosland, who led Sosland Publishing Company 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 in Kansas City.
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 fiancée 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.
Sam Sosland was the principal editor of the weekly magazine and from his early youth in Kansas City had been a journalist. Morton 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.
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, including Food Business News.
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.
He maintained a commitment to civic improvement and had a role for years in several organizations like Midwest Research Institute and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. He fostered his family’s efforts to maintain and strengthen Kansas City’s Jewish community, serving as head of several agencies and groups. He similarly reflected his family’s belief in the importance of arts and culture, mainly by affirming the role of his wife, his son and other family members in important local arts organizations.
He was co-chair of the Generations capital campaign of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an initiative that provided funding for a major expansion of the museum, and he continued to lead fund-raising for the museum’s endowment needs afterward.
In support of his family and younger generations, he for years managed family investing that often included start-ups as well as a range of other opportunities locally, nationally and in other countries.
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, was a member of the Academy of Missouri Squires since 1987, and in 2002 received the Leader in Agriculture Award from Agricultural Future of America. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Baking Hall of Fame in 2006.
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.