E. Cardon "Card" Walker, who helped create Walt Disney World and expand the company's theme parks around the world, has died. He was 89.
Walker died of congestive heart failure Monday at his home in La Canada Flintridge, Disney officials said Wednesday.
Walker helped lead Disney Co. through a difficult transition after the death of Walt Disney in 1966. As a board member from 1960 until 1983, he was instrumental in helping to expand the company's theme parks, including the purchase and development of 28,000 acres (11,200 hectares) in central Florida that later became Walt Disney World.
He became president of the company in 1971, the year co-founder Roy O. Disney died and Walt Disney World opened.
Walker joined Disney in 1938, starting in the mailroom. He later moved into advertising and sales and became vice president of marketing.
In 1966, he was named executive vice president and chief operating officer after Walt Disney's death. In 1971, he was named Disney's president and in 1976 became chief executive officer. He was elected chairman of the board in 1980.
He presided over the opening of EPCOT in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and the creation of the Disney Channel, the company's first cable network.
After his retirement, Ron Miller, Walt Disney's son-in-law, ran the company for two years. Miller was succeeded in 1984 by Michael Eisner.
"Thanks to his deep understanding of the company and its founders, talking to Card was the next-best thing to talking to Walt himself," Eisner said Wednesday in a statement.
Walker was born in 1916 in Rexburg, Idaho. He is survived by his wife, Winnie, three children and five grandchildren, AP reported. V.A.