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Remembering Disney Pioneer Ward Kimball

July 15, 2002

Ward Kimball's passing was a loss for the world of animation, and even more so for those who knew him (obituary, July 9). I grew up watching many of the cartoons Ward had animated, and I was fortunate to have him as a friend and mentor when I began collecting toy trains in the '70s and '80s. Ward's collection of 19th and 20th century trains, both real and toy, was legendary. It was Ward who convinced Walt Disney to make the Disneyland train in Anaheim full-scale rather than miniature.

And it was Ward who thrilled (and sometimes agitated) neighbors with his annual "steam ups," in which he chugged his 1881-era Emma Nevada back and forth on a short stretch of narrow-gauge track; there wasn't enough room on his property to turn the full-sized locomotive around. One of my most unforgettable moments was when Ward asked me to be the engineer in charge of running his toy train layout during one of these steam-fests.

Ward was more than generous. Once, while I was flying with him to a toy train show in Ohio, he calmed a frightened 5-year-old by sketching Mickey Mouse on a cocktail napkin and giving it to her. His cartoons live on, many of his trains have been donated to museums and, thus, Ward Kimball's memory will never fade.

Richard Carleton Hacker

Beverly Hills

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