Sosland Publishing Company — and the baking industry — lost a legend. Morton Sosland died on April 25, and while he leaves a space in the industry that will be hard to fill, he created a legacy for us to carry on.
Mr. Sosland was not the founder of our company (he and his brother Neil are the second generation), but to many, he was the patriarch. He was a pillar in our industry, and he was one of the most charitable members of the Kansas City community.
I must confess, with little more than a decade at Sosland and in this industry, I feel a bit unworthy to write about such an extraordinary individual. You veterans know his accomplishments well, so I’d like to take this page to make a personal reflection on the impact he had on me.
I remember interviewing for a position at Sosland in 2008. I didn’t know much about the grain-based foods industry, but I had two degrees, a strong work ethic and a lust for learning. Little did I know that was all I needed to become part of an industry that Mr. Sosland worked so tirelessly to preserve.
He was about 83 when I came to work here; he was the editor-in-chief of Milling & Baking News, and he came to the office every day and never missed writing an editorial. Back then, I was the managing editor for bake magazine (Baking Buyer at that time) … I knew this gentleman was a force; he wrote so eloquently about topics that were practically foreign to me, and I would think, “If only, someday, I could be that great.”
Morton Sosland was, at the same time, inspiring and intimidating.
Getting feedback from him was never short of an experience. On one hand, it was a thrill to know he was reading your work. But he didn’t mince words, so if you made a mistake, he made sure you knew it. I didn’t much mind, though, because it also meant that a compliment from him was real and sincere. It was as precious as gold.
I have been able to thrive in this company where strong work ethic and high editorial standards drive the culture, and that is, in great part, thanks to Mr. Sosland.
Every one of us was impacted by him in some way or another. Perhaps you learned about the industry by reading his work. Or maybe you made a business decision based on his insight. It’s possible that your friendship with him guided your work (and personal) ethic. Then again, maybe you were like me and simply wondered if one day you could follow in those big footsteps. If you didn’t know him personally but you looked at an industry professional and thought the same, chances are, you’re emulating someone who learned from Morton Sosland.
Prior to his death, he wrote an “ethical will” that was read at his memorial service. He began with a message of charity; it was one of his greatest passions in life and something the Sosland family and our company will carry on for generations. And he spoke of many things dear to him, not the least of which were his wife, Estelle, and their family, as well as parting words on the industry he loved so much.
We are the producers, keepers and protectors of — and educators on — grain-based foods. Regardless of our role, it’s our responsibility to help feed the world in healthy and enriching ways. We honor his memory by doing our part … now, let’s get to work.