Roy Disney, 79, dies following cancer battle

Roy Edward Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney who was lauded as playing “a key role in the revitalization of The Walt Disney Co.” died today after a year-long battle with stomach cancer. He was 79.

“He was much more than a valued 56-year Company veteran – Roy’s true passion and focus were preserving and building upon the amazing legacy of Disney animation that was started by his father and uncle,” Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said in a news release. “Roy’s commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of his greatest contributions to Disney’s past, present and future.”

Disney was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 10, 1930, to Roy O. Disney and Edna Francis Disney. The elder Roy Disney oversaw the completion of Walt Disney World following Walt Disney’s death.

Roy E. Disney started with The Walt Disney Studios in 1953 as an assistant film editor. In 1984, Disney helped usher in the Michael Eisner era, and in 2003, he led the push to oust Eisner. During that nearly 20-year span, Disney served as vice chairman of the company’s board of directors and chairman of the Studio’s Animation Department.

Under his tenure, the studio released some of its most beloved animated films, including “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Outside of his career with the company, Disney was a philanthropist and award-winning sailor.

“He put his heart and soul into preserving Disney’s legendary past, while helping to move the art of animation into the modern age by embracing new technology,” John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, said in a news release. “Roy was a visionary and passionate supporter of the art form, and he was all about quality.”

He is survived by his wife, four children and 16 grandchildren.