SAN DIEGO - Audrey Geisel, the widow of children’s author Dr. Seuss, devoted philanthropist and longtime La Jolla resident, has died at her Mount Soledad home.
Random House Children’s Books announced Friday that she died on Wednesday at age 97.
Geisel helped manage the literary estate of her late husband Theodor Geisel. He died in 1991.
Audrey Geisel was born in Chicago in 1921 and was raised by her mother, a Norwegian immigrant, according to an obituary published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Friday. Her father was a singer and dancer, and soon disappeared from her life. She grew up living with her mother, or family friends, or, once, in foster care.
She attended Indiana University as a nursing student, where she met her first husband, E. Grey Dimond, a pre-med student. They both worked at Massachusetts General Hospital, then moved to Kansas, where their two daughters were born, before moving to La Jolla in 1960.
"I saw that and knew I'd stay here forever," she later remarked on seeing the Pacific Ocean.
Geisel was a community leader who supported a wide range of causes, including education, literacy, healthcare and the arts. Geisel’s community involvement spanned numerous charities and organizations, including the Center for Family Literacy, La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe Theatre and San Diego Zoological Society.
She is sometimes credited with moving his work more in the direction of social issues through books such as "The Lorax," which has environmental themes, and the "The Butter Battle Book," an anti-war story, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. She would tell Geisel he wasn't just writing for children any more; the kids he first entertained had grown up and were now reading his stories to their own offspring.
She also had a hand in discovering lost Seuss manuscripts as she went through the mountain of material he left behind in desk drawers and closets. That led to the publication of "What Pet Should I Get?" in 2015.
Geisel had a long relationship with the University of California, San Diego and donated an extensive collection of Dr. Seuss memorabilia to the campus library. The main library was renamed Geisel Library to honor the couple.
“Audrey Geisel was a steadfast and beloved friend of the campus who will be truly missed,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego would not be the same top-ranked research institution it is today without her enthusiastic generosity and vast university involvement."
In 2013, Geisel donated $2 million for the renovation of University House, the private residence for the UCSD chancellor. The historic structure and venue now used for campus celebrations and fundraising events was formally renamed the “Audrey Geisel University House” in her honor.
Geisel is survived by her two daughters. Funeral plans are pending.