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Former leader of Disney dies

December 03, 2005|By By Ani Amirkhanian

LA CA—ADA FLINTRIDGE -- E. Cardon "Card" Walker, who rose from mailroom worker at the Walt Disney Co. to the entertainment giant's highest ranks, died Monday of congestive heart failure at his La Cañada Flintridge home. He was 89.

In 1971, Walker was named president of the company, succeeding co-founder Roy O. Disney after his death that year. Five years later, he became chief executive officer, and was elected chairman of the board in 1980.

"Card was one of the great leaders of certainly his generation or perhaps any generation," said Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios. "He embodied everything that was right about Disney; about business, he had enormous character, integrity and all that embodied in someone who was creative and nurturing."

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Walker was born on Jan. 9, 1916, in Rexburg, Idaho, and moved to Southern California in 1924. He would go on to first meet Walt Disney while working as a paper boy during his teens, said Howard Green, vice president of studio communications.

Eventually, Walker got a job in the mailroom at Disney, beginning a long career that spawned many achievements as he ascended through the company's ranks, which also included top positions in its marketing and advertising divisions.

Walker worked with Disney founders Walt and Roy O. Disney on projects that included Disneyland attractions such as "It's a Small World," "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the "Haunted Mansion."

"From my perspective, he was very impressive in that he came from a marketing and publicity background," Green said. "He was a good, sharp marketing man who kept the Disney name intact."

Walker was also instrumental in the purchase and development of the 28,000 acres that became Walt Disney World in Central Florida, and presided over the opening of Epcot Center when it opened in Florida in 1982. He also helped establish Tokyo Disney Resort and the Disney Channel.

He was a World War II veteran who served on the aircraft carrier "Bunker Hill" as a flight deck officer.

He is survived by his wife Winnie of 59 years, three children, Mignonne Walker Decker, Marnie Gaede and Cardon Walker, and five grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private. 20051203iqswprkn(LA)E. Cardon "Card" Walker

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