UCSD Philanthropist Audrey Geisel Dies at 97


Photo source: NBC San Diego

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Long-time San Diego philanthropist and Dr. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel, died at the age of 97 on Wednesday, December 19.

Audrey Geisel, née Stone, was born in 1921. After her first marriage, she married Theodor Geisel in 1968. Ever since, they lived in their home in Mount Soledad, where she died.

Theodor Geisel, whose famous pen name was Dr. Seuss, went on to create timeless characters such as the Grinch, the Lorax, and the Cat in the Hat. When he died in 1991, he told his wife, she would be “the one who would have to live with all the critters and move them on.”

Throughout her life, Audrey Geisel promoted Dr. Seuss’ works and oversaw Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Dr. Seuss Foundation. She protected his legacy fiercely, serving as the executive producer for the modern takes of Horton Hears a Who!, The Lorax, and The Grinch.

Following Dr. Seuss’ death, she hounded counterfeiters who tried to use iconic characters without copyright license. Mrs. Geisel also ensured that Dr. Seuss’ book characters and quotes were not associated with any political movements.

Furthermore, the Geisels always had a lasting relationship with UC San Diego. Audrey Geisel donated Dr. Seuss’ original papers to the campus library. In 1995, the university’s central library was renamed “Geisel Library,” after Mrs. Geisel donated $20 million to the school.

Mrs. Geisel’s philanthropy affected all areas of campus, including the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, and The Preuss School. One recent $3-million donation to Geisel Library led to a renovation of the library’s interior and the naming of the second floor cafe to “Audrey’s” in Mrs. Geisel’s honor.

Prior to her death, Mrs. Geisel had served on multiple advisory boards. She was on the University Librarian’s Advisory Board, Board of Visitors of the School of Medicine, and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Board.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, services for Mrs. Geisel are pending.

Ella Chen is the News Editor of The Triton. You can follow her @cinder_ellachen.