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Books

Dr. Seuss' Widow Audrey Geisel, Credited with Giving Icon a 'Second Wind,' Dies at 97

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Audrey Geisel — the philanthropist and widow of prolific children’s author Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) — died on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. She was 97.

Random House Children’s Books, publisher of Dr. Seuss’ titles, announced the news in a release obtained by the Associated Press. According to the publisher, Geisel — who oversaw Dr. Seuss’ literary estate — died “peacefully” at her home in La Jolla, California.

Born Audrey Stone, the Chicago native met the man behind the Dr. Seuss empire in the 1960sPublisher’s Weekly reported. Both were married at the time. His wife Helen died by suicide in 1967. Geisel, 17 years Dr. Seuss’ his junior, divorced her spouse and married Dr. Seuss in 1968.

During their over 20 years of marriage, the Cat in the Hat author would publish 21 titles, including Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, The Lorax and You’re Only Old Once. She was credited for spiking that creative output, Publisher’s Weekly reported.

When he died from oral cancer in 1991 at the age of 87, Geisel was entrusted to look after his legacy, the AP reported. She would go on to form Dr. Seuss Enterprises, a company overseeing the licensing of his characters and properties that transformed his 47 stories into a successful brand — with 10 million books sold a year, films, theme park rides, merchandise and a Broadway show, Seussical. 

Most recently, she executive-produced the animated film The Grinch, released in November. Other movies she produced included 2012’s The Lorax and 2008’s Horton Hears a Who.

Dr. Seuss
Gene Lester/Getty Images

Geisel is survived by her two daughters, Leagrey Dimond and Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who she sent to boarding school after marrying Dr. Seuss.

“They wouldn’t have been happy with Ted, and Ted wouldn’t have been happy with them. He’s the man who said of children, ‘You have ’em and I’ll entertain ’em,'” she explained to the New York Times in 2000, referring to Dr. Seuss by the shortened version of his first name. “Ted’s a hard man to break down, but this is who he was. He lived his whole life without children and he was very happy without children. I’ve never been very maternal. There were too many other things I wanted to do. My life with him was what I wanted my life to be.”

In an obituary written by Leagrey, Geisel was remembered as a woman who never complained, loved holidays, embraced “dancing cheek to cheek” and was an “extraordinary whistler.”

Mom was petite, beautiful, strong-willed, charming and fun,” she wrote in the obituary, which was published by the San Diego Union-Tribune. “She never looked back — only forward — and she had a great spirit for life. She sailed forth with that distinctive walk: head up, shoulders back, jaunty, as if she had just twirled her baton.”

Leagrey wrote that her mother’s marriage to Dr. Seuss a “second wind.”

Added Barbara Marcus, Random House Children’s Books president and publisher, in a statement to Publisher’s Weekly: “With our partners at Dr. Seuss Enterprises, we celebrate Audrey’s life. We will continue to work together to publish Dr. Seuss books for this and future generations, and to carry on the extraordinary commitment that Audrey upheld throughout her life to our beloved author’s genius, legacy, and enduring spirit.”

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