On December 15th of 1966, less than two months after the discovery of a malignant tumour in his left lung, Walt Disney passed away. Hours later, his brother Roy sent the following memo to all employees of the company.
In the following days, Roy Disney announced the postponement of his retirement; he then spent the next five years overseeing the completion of his brother's latest project, Walt Disney World, which opened in October of 1971. Two months later, Roy Disney passed away.
(Source: Samuel; Image of Walt Disney via.)
December 15, 1966
TO: ALL EMPLOYEES
FROM: ROY DISNEY
The death of Walt Disney is a loss to all the people of the world. In everything he did Walt had an intuitive way of reaching out and touching the hearts and minds of young and old alike. His entertainment was an international language. For more than forty years people have looked to Walt Disney for the finest in family entertainment.
There is no way to replace Walt Disney. He was an extraordinary man. Perhaps there will never be another like him. I know that we who worked at his side for all these years will always cherish the years and the minutes we spent in helping Walt Disney entertain the people of the world. The world will always be a better place because Walt Disney was its master showman.
As President and Chairman of the Board of Walt Disney Productions, I want to assure the public, our stockholders and each of our more than four thousand employees that we will continue to operate Walt Disney's company in the way that he has established and guided it. Walt Disney spent his entire life and almost every waking hour in the creative planning of motion pictures, Disneyland, television shows and all the other diversified activities that have carried his name through the years. Around him Walt Disney gathered the kind of creative people who understood his way of communicating with the public through entertainment. Walt's ways were always unique and he built a unique organization. A team of creative people that he was justifiably proud of.
I think Walt would have wanted me to repeat his words to describe the organization he built over the years. Last October when he accepted the "Showman of the World" award in New York, Walt said, "The Disney organization now has more than four thousand employees. Many have been with us for over thirty years. They take great pride in the organization which they helped to build. Only through the talent, labor and dedication of this staff could any Disney project get off the ground. We all think alike in the ultimate pattern."
Much of Walt Disney's energies had been directed to preparing for this day. It was Walt's wish that when the time came he would have built an organization with the creative talents to carry on as he had established and directed it through the years. Today this organization has been built and we will carry out this wish.
Walt Disney's preparation for the future has a solid, creative foundation. All of the plans for the future that Walt had begun -- new motion pictures, the expansion of Disneyland, television production and our Florida and Mineral King projects -- will continue to move ahead. That is the way Walt wanted it to be.