Obituaries detail

Michael Edward McLellan



July 11, 1950 - May 11, 2023


Michael Edward McLellan, 72, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Overland Park, Kansas, passed away on May 11, 2023, following a sudden aortic tear. “No one made me laugh like Michael” is a frequent refrain from his loved ones, and how he will fondly be remembered the most. His impossibly quick wit and ability to make people smile in even the darkest of circumstances were a true gift to everyone who knew him.



Michael, known affectionately to many as Mac, "Uncle Mike" (and “Snickies” to a few), was born July 11, 1950, in Atlanta, Georgia. The family moved to Kansas City in 1951 then became early residents of Overland Park in 1954 when there was nothing but farmland south of 87th Street. He attended Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic School and both Rockhurst and Shawnee Mission West High Schools, where he established numerous friendships that lasted through his life. He gladly opted for a GED, took a few classes at JCCC then left the world of formal academics but remained a life-long learner, with help from several cherished mentors.

After stints unloading boxcars, pouring concrete, and manufacturing springs, he began the pursuit of his passions – music and art. He idolized The Beatles and attended their Kansas City concert in 1964 with his brother Alex. Although he was a successful drummer performing in rock bands, dance bands and at the occasional wedding in the late '60s and early '70s, he ultimately shifted his focus to visual art. He wrote contemporary cards for Hallmark, while working as a psychiatric aide in mental health hospitals, mostly with drug and alcohol patients.

Michael's world changed in 1971 when he met Kipp Schuessler, a graphic artist, Hallmark cartoonist and a generous mentor. Through Kipp and his wife Anita, Michael was introduced into a world of talent and creativity, most importantly when he met Fred (Fritz) Jaeger, a renowned artist and professor who escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna in 1938.  Michael became Fred's apprentice and studied with him in the late '70s until Fred's death in 1980. For the next 40 years Michael immersed himself in art and created pieces that are displayed in personal collections in several countries.
Frederick Jaeger: Artist (

He often stated the best thing he ever did was marry the love of his life, his soulmate Kathy (Cooper) McLellan in May of 1977. They shared many wonderful adventures together during their nearly 46 years of marriage. The early years of their marriage were focused on raising Kathy’s two younger brothers and helping the Cooper family negotiate an extraordinarily difficult time.  Later years enabled them to make McLellan family trips to the beach in Florida, and to enjoy a 6-week sabbatical in the Netherlands in 1993 exploring the homeland of Rembrandt (one of Michael's biggest inspirations), Vermeer, Van Gogh. . . and a few coffeeshops. They were devoted to each other and ended most days sharing a cup of tea and perhaps watching the latest Masterpiece on PBS.

His only biological child, Jennifer Ann (1969-2020), was adopted and raised by his parents while remaining the light of his life.  Theirs was a special bond, and both have been described as among the most delightful and unique humans you would have the pleasure of knowing. The McLellan family was beyond blessed to have them both, though neither for nearly long enough.

Michael was a voracious reader, student of history, politics, physics and astronomy and over the past decade had 30-40 virtual chess games going at a time with on-line friends and acquaintances around the world. He was a follower of the Tao, a simple man who believed that 'life is but a dream'.  He loved a good hamburger and most sweets.

Michael is preceded in death by his parents, Harold (“Mac”) and Louise (“Sweetie”) McLellan, his daughter Jennifer McLellan, and his brother William (Bill) McLellan. He will be lovingly remembered and deeply missed by countless friends and family, his dearest “Kat” first and foremost. His brother Alex McLellan, and his sisters Marie (Roland) Charles (Collierville, TN) and Jane (Robert) Card (Darlington, MD), his sister-in-law Betty (Fred) Sanchez (Tucson, AZ), brothers-in-law John (Cally) Cooper (Salt Lake City, UT), Jerry (Robyn) Cooper (Austin, TX), Steve Cooper (Winfield, KS) as well as his many nieces and nephews who adored their Uncle Mike.

A celebration of life for Michael and Jennifer will be held Saturday, October 28 from 5:00-8:00 pm, with plans to show some of his artwork from over the years and a request to share all the ways he made us laugh like no other. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to causes Michael cared about ,   or

Additional Service:
Celebration of Life
The InterUrban ArtHouse
8001 Newton St.
Overland Park
Zip Code:
Date of Service:
Oct 28, 2023
Time of Service:
5:00 pm
Additional Information:
No Additional Information Added
Google Map:


Jan Brothers May 21, 2023

Friend ,Kansas City ,Missouri

I am deeply saddened by this news of Michael’s passing. In my opinion, he was a genius, and he lifted my spirits every time I spoke with him. His presence is greatly missed. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

Cliff Booker May 21, 2023

Friend ,Leawood ,Kansas

Alex so very sorry for you and your family. Prayers for all.

Patricia Hassan May 21, 2023

Friend ,Shawnee ,Kansas

Oh, Kathy. This is devastating news. Sending many, many, many condolences and much love and sympathy.

Mark Oetting May 21, 2023

Friend ,Overland Park ,Kansas

Mike was so funny and such a great artist. He had so much art to see when I would visit.

Debbie McLeod May 21, 2023

Friend ,Lenexa ,Kansas

DearKathy - So sorry to learn of your very unexpected loss of Michael. Sending you much love, support, and encouragement. You both will be in our hearts. Debbie & Brad McLeod

JAMES MATTERN May 21, 2023

Friend ,Driggs ,Idaho

We met the first day of first grade friends ever since. Went to see the BEATLES together Sept.17 1964 one of my fondest memories. Thank you Mike.

Carrie McDonald May 21, 2023

Kathy's friend ,Kansas City ,Missouri

Kathy, please know that I'm thinking about you. Carrie

Jessica Hoffman May 21, 2023

Friend of Kathy’s ,Lee’s Summit ,Missouri

Kathy, I’m incredibly sorry for your loss. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Michael in person, I felt I knew him through you. I have always admired your love and devotion to him, and enjoyed our times chuckling over similar traits and quirks our husbands shared with each other. You are an amazingly strong woman who I love very much! Please know I am always here should you need anything. Hang in there. Love, Jessica

Jim Conrow May 22, 2023

Classmate ,Dallas ,Texas

Sorry to hear as Mike was one of my favorites. He had such a good heart.

Ann O'Connor Waters May 23, 2023

friend of Kathy's ,Parkville ,Missouri

My condolences to Kathy and the entire McLellean/Cooper families. Marie, I'm so sorry for the loss of your brother. I know you looked up to him and loved him. Rest in peace, Michael.

Marty OConnell May 24, 2023

Friend and fellow stoner ,San Francisco ,California

I am in shock and very sad about lost opportunities to spend time with you. I will listen to Cat Stevens by candlelight in your memory.

Jane Card May 25, 2023

Sister ,Darlington ,Maryland

Mike, Mikey or Snickies, as his family called him, was the funniest guy I’ve ever known. He always had a way to get a laugh, even when life wasn’t funny. He’d be telling me,” Now Janiebird there’s no time for tears, you have things to do. He was the busiest, un busy person you’ve ever known, he always had his hand in something, Art, reading, chess the list is endless. Yet his favorite place to have his hand was in Kathy’s, he adored her, and they made each other better people, they completed each other. I can’t tell you how much he will be missed, it literally breaks my heart to know he is gone. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but I knew all I had to do was call and he’d be there, maybe not literally there because he wasn’t much for leaving his chair, but he would always be there to lend an ear, give advice or make me laugh. He and I shared a lot of special times, lots of tea, lots of late night talks and a million laughs. I loved him dearly and will miss him every day of my life. Rest in peace Mikey, I love you!

Teddy Freese May 28, 2023

Neighbor from the old days ,Lenexa ,Kansas

I am sorry for your loss. The McLellan family lived behind our house in Overland Park. We went to Queen of the Holy Rosary grade school. I am still in touch with Alex at times. I always remember how nice the family was to our very large family. The McLellan family is in my prayers. Teddy Freese

Sandra Stoner Jun 03, 2023

friend ,Sacramento ,California

Kathy, Sending much love, hugs and comforting thoughts. Sandra

Christoph Unholz Jun 06, 2023

Friend from Switzerland ,Zürich, Switzerland

As I did not receive any posts on faxe+ Michael, I realized that something must be wrong. I did my research in the Internet and found the sad and shocking news. I miss you Mike! All the jokes and adventures in The Bahamas, our invented game trashball game. I send my condolences to Kathy and her family that they may have all the strength to overcome this sad loss.

Mike Mulcahy Aug 23, 2023

friend from elementary school and life ,Lenexa ,Kansas

Kathy, I'm so sorry for your loss and for ours as Mike kind of belonged to everyone. We had such a great time in grade school listening to Mike's made up on the spot songs and laughing at the stuff he would think up to say. What a classmate he was. I am coming to his celebration with a passion for the way he touched everyone he met in one way or another. Most of all, he taught me how important it is to laugh and enjoy life.