Our March 2020 Issue pays tribute to the memory of our co-founder and longtime Editor, Joseph Neil McGinnis. We are sharing some of the wonderful tributes from Joe’s longtime friends and family on our website. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ISSUE. We thank everyone who took part and helped us remember Joe. He will remain in our hearts forever.
Introducing Joseph Neil McGinnis, Jr. – by Jacquelyn Fogel and Joe’s Family
*I am so grateful Joe’s family shared this with me. It has so many details of which I was unaware. Funny how you think you know someone, then find out how much you forgot to ask about –Jacquelyn Fogel
Joe Neil Mcginnis, Jr. passed away at home on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, after battling health issues for many years.
Joe was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 25, 1953, the first son of Joseph, Sr. and Harriet Mae (Birmingham) McGinnis.
Besides Chicago and Elmhurst (IL), Joe lived in Indianapolis (IN), Madison (WI), Dubuque (IA), Galena (IL), New York City (NY), the Nashville (TN) area, Kansas City (KS), and Lakeland (FL).
Joe joined a family that included his three older sisters and was expanded several years later when his younger brother was born. By the time he entered first grade, his family had relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana where he first laid his eyes on a Pekingese owned by relatives of a neighbor. Thus began a lifelong love for our canine companions.
His compassion for the needs of others was influenced by his mother, whom he often accompanied as she volunteered for The Red Cross transporting patients with special needs to medical appointments. It continued in high school when he taught swimming to special-needs children. Her fierce family loyalty and mischievous sense of humor carried on in her son. Bonds with extended family were forged by many trips to his mother’s home state of Iowa. Joe internalized his father’s dynamic work ethic, showmanship and entrepreneurial spirit.
In Madison, Joe got his first dog, “Fritzie,” a Springer Spaniel mix. In 1971, he graduated from Edgewood High School where he played baritone horn in the band and got his first taste of the theatre arts. He has faithfully attended his EHS class reunions. Joe performed several times with The Madison Savoyards, a community Gilbert and Sullivan operetta troupe. He began a solo singing career while attending Loras College in Dubuque where he met Duane Doll.
After relocating to Lakeland, Joe and Duane bred and showed Pekingese, including their beloved Champion Elphasun Arrythmia (Casey). Also found on their property were champion Milking Shorthorn cattle.
In 1983 they founded Doll-McGinnis Publications by launching their first glossy magazine, The Orient Express, to showcase the Pekingese breed. Duane served as the CEO and Joe as Publisher, Editor and Art Director. Delightful to read, his Letters from the Editor spanned such topics as breed health issues and standards, current events, issues within the dog show world and touching tributes to special friends and family lost, both human and canine.
In addition to his publishing and writing for print and digital formats, Joe was an accomplished music producer, songwriter and Tony Award winning producer (Best Musical 2007, “Spring Awakening”). In his larger-than life, he had also been an antiques store owner, interior designer and realtor.
Doll-McGinnis Publications expanded to include four more breed and group magazines, including the all-breed ShowSight, from which the business’ website got its name. After AraMedia Group assumed ownership of the magazines, Joe continued as Editor Emeritus, filing his last editorial for the February 2020 issue.
Joe is survived by: his brother Charles McGinnis (Patti); sisters Elizabeth Strodtman (Tom), Mary McGinnis, and Barbara ‘Totsy’ Moake (Rick); partner Zell von Pohlman; nieces Laura Guaschino (Brian), Kaighty McGinnis, Julie Chesna (Steve), and Sarah McGinnis; nephews Shane Strodtman (Cathleen), Kevin Moake (Catherine), Joshua Strodtman, and Connor McGinnis; great-nieces Mona Mera Strodtman, Sabrina Guaschino, Cass Skripsky Strodtman, and Hannah Chesna; and great-nephews Gavin McGinnis, Noah Strodtman, and Miles Guaschino; and closest cousin Janet Smith. Joe was preceded in death by his parents, and husband, Duane Doll.
Joe’s family and friends will forever owe a debt of gratitude to the hospice nurses who attended to his comfort with skill and compassion, including Gilbert, Bonnie, Kelly, Barb, Amber, Lucy and Francoise.
In lieu of flowers, Joe would appreciate contributions to the Take the Lead Foundation, which provides direct services, support, and care for people in the sport of purebred dogs who suffer devastating circumstances due to life-threatening or terminal illness, or natural disasters.
Personal, from Jacquelyn Fogel
I will never forget how Joe McGinnis made an entrance. Not grand, like Liberace, but a long, easy, never-rushed stride followed immediately by a grin that made you look. It was as if the sun had just arrived to welcome the planets to his sphere. Everyone welcomed into his sphere was made to feel special and loved. That was Joe’s magic.
Joe McGinnis never met an obstacle too big to overcome—until now. He saw only opportunity, never threat, and he could convince you that his view of the world was worthy of your effort and his time, and he’d be right there with you to make it all happen and it would be good. And it always was. His vision of Meet-The-Breeds has become wildly successful in Orlando and New York, and the continuing sponsorship of the booth competitions by ShowSight Magazine has made sure these events will continue to grow and get better. Joe wanted the whole world to share in his appreciation of master breeders who worked tirelessly to keep purebred dogs relevant and available for everyone who wanted the joy of living with one. He knew that joy personally, with Pekingese, Goldens and Poodles. He adored his dogs.
It seemed like Joe knew everyone. He made it his business to get to know the people who were working hard to keep our canine competitions relevant in a world that was rapidly shifting towards honoring pet rescues and mixed breeds. He encouraged spirited discussion of all things dog and was not afraid to offer a well-thought-out opinion. He was candid, but never harsh. Watching Group judging at The Garden with Joe was as much fun as one can have at a dog show. He was a master at judging dogs—and handlers—and his commentary was always delightful.
Joe knew how to identify and pull together the people and forces necessary to institute change. He made things happen. When he brought his sunshine to an issue, you knew things were going to work out for the best. He could not accept less, and the disappointments he felt were always temporary. I think, somehow, Joe managed to fit about four extra hours into every day. He was not mortal, I thought—until he was. That was Joe’s magic.
It is hard to lose a person like Joe McGinnis. Icon does not begin to describe what he was in the dog fancy. He was kind, energetic, positive, supportive, brilliant and always willing to help without judgement. Being with him and seeing that grin first-hand made the world a better place. I was so honored that he brought me into his life as not just a writer, but also a friend. He allowed me complete editorial freedom—except for one time when he asked me to re-work a section in which he thought I was being a little too critical of people who had only good intentions. Of course, I agreed, and reworked that section. I would have moved heaven and earth for him if he had asked. That was Joe’s magic. I am going to miss his sunshine. I wrote for him, and he was the inspiration behind many of the ideas I explored in my columns. He brought out my best.
Godspeed, dear friend. Know that you were loved by many.