University Donor and Widow to Dr. Seuss, Audrey Geisel, Dies at 97

Audrey Geisel, a notable philanthropist supporting literacy, education and the arts, widow to Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and major benefactor to the Geisel Library, passed away in her La Jolla home on Dec. 19. Geisel has donated more than 12,000 pieces of Dr. Seuss’ works and creative items to the library’s collection, as well as tens of millions of dollars to institutions across campus.

“She passionately believed in our mission and vision, and consistently supported us, through thick and thin,” University Librarian Erik Mitchell said of her passing. “Although we will miss her greatly, we are extremely fortunate that her legacy will live on in Geisel Library and through the phenomenal Dr. Seuss Collection housed in our Special Collections.”

Following the death of her husband in 1991, Geisel became the president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Dr. Seuss Foundation, presiding over his literary estate. In 1995, she donated $20 million to the school’s central library, which was subsequently renamed in her and her late husband’s honor.

In addition, the main floor coffee shop was named “Audrey’s” after her substantial donation toward library renovations.

Since then, she has donated at least another $12 million dollars to the library alone, as well as to other projects and developments across campus. Geisel also served on a number of Library boards and councils, as well as the Board of Visitors of the School of Medicine, the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Board, and was also a member of the university’s Chancellor’s Associates.

Chancellor Khosla awarded Geisel in 2010 with the Chancellor’s Medal as part of the university’s 50th Anniversary in recognition of her charitable donations and involvements.

“Audrey Geisel was a steadfast and beloved friend of the campus who will be truly missed,” Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in the school’s press release. “UC San Diego would not be the same top-ranked research institution it is today without her enthusiastic generosity and vast university involvement.”

Across town, Geisel was also a significant donor to the San Diego Zoo, an institution that her late husband openly and enthusiastically supported.

As family friend Jeanne Jones told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “Those things were important to her because she knew they would have been important to him.” 

In addition to her charitable works, Geisel was also served as producer for such recent films as “The Lorax,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and the live action “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” She also is famously credited as encouraging Dr. Seuss’s more socially commentative works such as “The Lorax.”

Audrey Geisel is survived by her two daughters, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates and Leagrey Dimond.


photo by Tyler Faurot