Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remembering Dr. Seuss Theodor Geisel June 28, 1879 - Dec. 9, 1968

"In every era, it seems, there emerge a tiny few who march to a different drummer than the rest of us-a
drummer whose beat is barely audible to the day to day world.  Ted Geisel was one of those mystical people.  His extraordinary lenses showed him a world where elves, leprechauns, and the little people are very real.  His was a world where there is good everywhere, if only we will take the time to see it.
And he did his best to show us how."

These are the words of Victor Krulak, a retired Lt. Gen. of the U.S. Marine Corps voiced at the memorial for his late friend.

Theodor "Ted" Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts having enjoyed a happy childhood.  He loved writing poetry and drawing his own cartoons.  His dad ran a brewery and supervised the park system in Springfield.  He attended Springfield High School and his freshman year took an art class where he learned the fundamentals that he would use to create his future life.

Following high school, Geisel attended Dartmouth College.  While in college, he rose to the rank of editor and chief for the college humor magazine called the "Dartmouth Jack O Lantern"  Geisel liked to party and was forced to quit all extracurricular activities and was asked to resign his position with the newspaper when he got caught drinking gin with his friends in his college dormitory.  He decided to secretly continue his work with the newspaper under the pen name" Seuss".  His first work signed as Dr. Seuss appeared after he graduated.  A professor by the name of W. Benfield Pressey encouraged Geisel to continue writing and Geisel credits him with his "inspiration" to write.  After Dartmouth, Geisel attended Lincoln College in Oxford where he met his wife.

His writing career progressed when he submitted articles and illustrations to various magazines including Vanity Fair, Judge, Life, and Liberty.  The Saturday Evening Post published Geisel's first cartoon under the name of Seuss.  He also made his living by producing his work for General Electric, NBC, and Standard Oil Company.  Geisel's first book was created while on an ocean voyage to Europe when Geisel was inspired from the sound of the ship's engines and the result was his book "And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street."  He continued to write more and more children's books.

During World War II, Geisel began writing political cartoons that resulted in the publishing of "Dr. Seuss Goes to War."  He also drew posters for the Treasury Department.  He served in the US Army during the war where he continued to create animations and wrote films for military training.  He won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature for a film he did about Japanese culture.

In his later years, Geisel and his wife returned to La Jolla, California  where he wrote many of his popular works including "The Cat in the Hat" "Horton Hears a Who!" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to name a few.  He received numerous awards for his writing.  He published 46 children's books, created eleven television specials and four feature films.

Theodor "Ted" Geisel died on September 24, 1991 in his sleep at the age of  87 after suffering from throat cancer.  He had received two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a Pulitzer Prize and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Geisel's memorial program

A Celebration of the Life of Theodor Seuss Geisel was held on November 18, 1991 (program pictured) in the James S. Copley Auditorium in the San Diego Museum of Art.  Several of his colleagues and friends paid tribute to him.  His program said of him "Ted Geisel was the true renaissance man.  Because he was a sensitive philosopher in a broad spectrum of the world's affairs and a serious student of many of the world's problems, it is difficult, in a single portrait, to capture the scope of his many interests."

Seuss memorial booklet
Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.  At the time of his death, nearly 200 million copies of his books were translated into 15 different languages are scattered across the world.  Along with his books, Geisel was cremated and his ashes were scattered (location unknown).

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