February 10, 2012—A great friend to CalArts, and particularly, the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT), Patricia A. Disney, passed away last week. A prominent and generous philanthropist, she was the vice chairman of Shamrock Holdings Inc., the investment company for the Roy E. Disney family.
Born Patricia Dailey on January 11, 1935, in New Orleans, Ms. Disney was raised from the age of six years in Toluca Lake where one of her neighbors was her future husband, Roy E. Disney, the only child of Walt Disney’s brother, Roy O. Disney. After a year at the University of Colorado in Boulder and working in advertising in New York, she married Roy in 1955. They remained married for more than 50 years and together they had four children–Roy Patrick Disney, Susan Disney Lord, Abigail Disney and Timothy Disney, and 17 grandchildren.
A passionate advocate for higher education, Patricia Disney served as a trustee of Occidental College in Los Angeles and a regent of St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif. She also was a member of the board of the Peregrine Fund, a foundation that preserves birds of prey. Her philanthropic endeavors included donating $5 million to help establish the REDCAT Theater at Disney Hall and $10 million to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank to create the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center.
REDCAT’s executive director, Mark Murphy, says, “The generous support that Patricia and Roy Disney gave to create REDCAT is a wonderful example of their shared enthusiasm for artists that take risks and surprise us. In the tradition of CalArts, REDCAT is a place for innovation and invention. Mrs. Disney had a sparkle in her eye that was particularly bright when she was surrounded by laughter. I wish I’d had a chance to know her better. She made the world a better place.”