SACRAMENTO – Morris “Morrie” Turner, the creator of the Wee Pals comic strip and the first African American artist to have a column syndicated nationally passed away Saturday, Jan. 25 in the presence of family members. Turner, who is also a military veteran, was 90.

A spokesman for Turner said the Oakland-born artist died peacefully at a hospital in Sacramento on Saturday.

Turner developed the ethnically diverse comic strip in 1965 at the urging of his mentor Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Wee Pals went from six newspapers to more than a hundred.

Turner’s strip simply presented an urban, multiracial group of kids figuring out how to get along, but nothing like it had ever been seen on the funny pages.

He was recognized in 2003 by the National Cartoonist Society for his work with the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.

According to spokesperson David Bellard, he was surrounded by family when he passed, including his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He celebrated his 90th birthday on Dec. 11 of 2013.