Don Addis, 1935–2009

Don AddisDonald Gordon Addis, 74, St. Petersburg, Fla., died at home Nov. 29, 2009, of lung cancer.

Addis was a longtime member of the Freedom From Religion Found­ation, and his cartoons have long been a treasured part of FFRF publications. He received the Foundation’s Free­thought in the Media “Tell It Like It Is” award at the 2005 national convention in Orlando.

Addis was born on Friday, Sept. 13, 1935, in Hollywood, Calif. He grew up in Hollywood, Fla., and in 2004, after a long career as a freethinking editorial cartoonist and columnist with the St. Petersburg Times, he retired, on a Friday the 13th.

He earned a degree in design from the University of Florida, where he also edited the Orange Peel, then ranked as the nation’s No. 1 college humor magazine. He also served as editorial cartoonist on his college newspaper, The Alligator, as he did on his U.S. Army newspaper before that.

He won 16 awards for cartooning from the Armed Forces Press Service. His work includes the comic strips “Briny Deep” (1980), “The Great John L.” (1982–1984), “Babyman” (1985) and “Bent Offerings” (1988–2004). He received the National Cartoonist So­ciety Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for 1992 for “Bent Offerings.” He was awarded the National Cartoon­ists Society prize for Best Newspaper Panel Cartoon for 1993. He won the Florida Education Association School Bell Award for cartoons in the field of education four years in a row and several first places in the Florida Newspaper Illustrator and Cartoonists contest. He was named its Cartoonist of the Year.

In his farewell column in 2004, Addis addressed those who complained over the years that his work was not balanced or objective: “Ob­ject­ivity is not my department. Balance is down the hall. Impartiality is another word for no reason to draw a cartoon.”

His obituary in the St. Petersburg Times gave a flavor of the man: “Though loyal to friends and family, Mr. Addis was not gregarious. While others partied though the holidays, he preferred to stay home with a book, where a welcome mat still reads ‘GO AWAY.’ He bought smelts for an egret in the neighborhood, which stalked him regularly.”

Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president, said Addis contributed hundreds of gently irreverent cartoons to the Foundation, always sending the original. “We will miss Don so much, for who he was and for his clever cartoons, which were so truthful.”
His e-mail name was “Inky Fella,” and his cartoon trademark near his signature was a fly, which was an inside joke with his mother-in-law.

Many of his cartoons (such as the one above) are framed at the Found­ation’s office, and FFRF published a wall calendar in 2008 that featured them.

Survivors include his daughters, Eileen Wilson, Alice Addis and Mary Addis; a son, Douglas Addis and his wife, Christi; a brother, Tom Addis; and four grandchildren.

Freedom From Religion Foundation