Kangaroo Connection Missing from Business Journal Co-Founder Obit

UMKC Kangagroo Mascot: still fighting the good fight!

UMKC Kangagroo Mascot: still fighting the good fight!

Missing in action from Star staffer Dan Margolies largely glossy tribute to recently deceased Kansas City Business Journal co-founder Mike Russell – aside from that Margolies spent the better part of his journalistic career cashing paychecks at the Business Journal: any reference to Russell’s business and financial setbacks in his later years.

“He was oneof the three people who helped talk UMKC into going into Division One sports,” says Bob Lewellen, a longtime member of the school’s athletic foundation board. “He and (deceased AMC Theatres chieftain) Stan Durwood and Larry Bridges. And they told the chancellor they would be the fundraising arm for it.”

Just one problem…

“Unbeknownst to them was that both Russelll and Bridges would have business reversals,” Lewellen says. “It wasn’t their fault, but both of them had the world turn on them. Then the university had to continue with the program and they did. And then Stan Durwood was the backbone of the whole program. Even today his foundation gave the money to build the on-campus soccer stadium they’re building now.”

Did Russell and/or Bridges ever return to the UMKC sports portfolio fold?

“Not since their reversals,” Lewellen says noting that Bridges has long since recuperated. “They had their own problems to fight and they never came back.”


My most memorable Mike Russell story dates back to the 1980s when I was senior VP at local brokerage firm B.C. Christopher. I handled the firm’s advertising and marketing and had used the company’s not being happy about what it felt was one-sided coverage of a decision to sell to one of two competing suitors as an excuse not to buy ads in the Business Journal.

Whereupon I got a call from Russell, who put me on the defensive by sternly explaining that he had a very large investment portfolio with the company, adding that “I buy ink in 50 gallon barrels and I can bury you.”

I don’t know, but I thought it was a classy move coming from someone in the journalism racket.

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