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In memoriam: Charles Preston was longtime WSJ cartoonist

FFRF Gung-Ho Member Charles Preston, a longtime cartoonist for the Wall Street Journal, died at his home at age 98. Charles generously bequeathed $100,000 to FFRF. 

For 70 years, Preston was a cartoonist for WSJ, beginning with his first cartoon on June 6, 1950. The cartoon was called “Pepper . . . and Salt.”

To fill the Journal’s daily slots, he sorted through hundreds of submissions a month from dozens of cartoonists. He was looking for those, he said, that help us “laugh with others in order to laugh at ourselves.” The humor in the cartoons he chose was always gentle and good-natured, never sarcastic or snarky.

Preston once observed that “I’ve looked at more cartoons than anyone in the history of mankind.”

According to the obituary in the Wall Street Journal, Preston also contributed articles on skiing and sailing, and edited crossword puzzles and quote acrostics, which appeared in hundreds of newspapers, including USA Today, where he was the puzzle editor for 15 years. 

“His taste for outdoor adventure extended to sailing across the Atlantic and the annual spring ski down Mount Washington’s steep Tuckerman Ravine, which he accomplished into his 70s,” the WSJ obituary states.

Charles and his wife Linda Preston were the editors of the crossword puzzles published in the Coast Star and an estimated 100 other newspapers.

“Linda does the work,” he said. “I get the glory. I receive comments only when a solver becomes frustrated.”

Charles is a former race-car driver and member of the original staff of Sports Illustrated, where he was the cartoon editor. An assignment from The National Observer to edit crossword puzzles resulted in a new career, but he didn’t give up cartoons.

“Pepper . . . and Salt” cartoons have been collected in 14 books, including Portfolio of Business Cartoons, a 50th anniversary compilation published by the Wall Street Journal. Preston’s personal cartoon collection found a home at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library.

Charles Preston