E. Cardon “Card” Walker, who led the Walt Disney Company following the death of co-founder Roy O. Disney, died of heart failure in La Canada, Calif. Nov. 29. He was 89.
Born in Rexburg, Ida., Walker rose through the ranks at Disney, starting in the mailroom in 1938, working in the camera and story departments as unit manager on short subjects, and eventually moving into advertising and sales, where he became v.p. of marketing.
He worked closely with Walt and Roy Disney on projects such as It’s a Small World, Meet Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, “101 Dalmatians,” “The Jungle Book,” “Mary Poppins” and the purchase of Florida land that became Walt Disney World.
In 1971, he was named president of the company, in 1976, he added the duties of chief executive officer and, in 1980, he was elected chairman of the board. He retired as CEO and chairman in 1983, but continued to serve as a consultant until 1990.
Disney projects launched during his tenure include EPCOT at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and the creation of the Disney Channel.
“Card was instrumental in keeping Disney strong and growing in the critical years that followed the passing of founders Walt and Roy Disney. There is little question that, were it not for Card Walker’s vision and leadership, Disney would not be what it is today,” said Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
“Thanks to his deep understanding of the company and its founders, talking to Card was the next best thing to talking to Walt himself. Card successfully steered this company through a challenging time of transition, establishing an incredibly strong base for success on which Disney continues to build,” said former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
Among his awards and honors were Pioneer of the Year from the Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers, the International Showmanship Award from the National Association of Theater Owners and the Alumnus of the Year Award from UCLA.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Winnie, three children and five grandchildren.
Donations may be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, (800) 322-9474 or wishla.org.