Audrey Geisel, widow of Dr. Seuss, dies at 97

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.

406079 05: Audrey Geisel (2-L), admires a statue of her late husband Theodore Geisel at the newly opened Dr. Suess Memorial Sculpture Garden May 31, 2001 in Springfield, MA. The $6.2 million garden honors the creator of the Grinch, the Lorax and the Cat in the Hat. Theodor Geisel, known as Dr. Suess was born in Springfield. (Photo by William B. Plowman/Getty Images)

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.

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) California first Lady Maria Shriver (7th-R) poses with 12 honorees (L-R) jazz musician Dave Brubeck, actress Jane Fonda, Audrey Geisel the widow of Theodor Geisel/Dr. Seuss, Steven Graham the son of artist Robert Graham, music producer Quincy Jones, fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne, Daniel Dixon the elder son of photographer Dorothea Lange, Ellen North the great niece of architect Julia Morgan, actor Jack Nicholson, Dr. Linus Pauling Jr. the eldest son of scientist and activist Linus Pauling, Tom Stanford the great relation of railroad tycoon and Stanford University founder Leland Stanford and chef Alice Waters inducted into the 2008 California Hall of Fame at The California Museum on December 15, 2008 in Sacramento, California. On display at the Museum until late 2009 are items from the various inductees such as Jane Fonda's two Oscars and cameras belonging to Dorothea Lange. (Photo by The California Museum via Getty Images)

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