Two wonderful stories by Peggy Matthews Rose:
You Don’t Know Jack!
That was the audacious title slide running on projectors in the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom on Monday, April 18, as family and invited guests entered to pay tribute to their recently fallen comrade-in-arms—Disney Legend Jack Lindquist.
And while most of us their certainly did “know Jack” at least somewhat, by the end of the program there’s no doubt we knew him better. From the moment we entered the Ballroom, Jack was there. The “concession” stands full of soft drinks and boxes of popcorn were the first clue, followed by programs and Mouse ears sporting a caricature of Jack carefully laid on each seat.
Emceed by Voice of Disneyland Bill Rogers and hosted by former Nixon Foundation President Sandy Quinn, Jack’s family, close friends, and co-workers took us on a tour of his life that had us in tears—mostly from laughing at the antics of this one-of-a-kind Disney Legend.
We were touched to learn that Jack and former Disneyland Marketing Director Jim Garber wrote the day’s program together — so we knew it was exactly what Jack wanted.
Jack’s son Dave, Chapman University president Jim Doti—who knew Jack’s influence wide and well, fellow Disney Legend Marty Sklar, longtime Disneyland Vice President Ron Dominguez, former executive Jim Cora, recently-retired Disneyland bandleader and talent booker Stan Freese, and current Disneyland president Michael Colglazier (who presented recorded sentiments from past Disneyland and current Disney Parks presidents around the world).
After a little UCLA/USC hilarity and a rousing round of the Mickey Mouse Club march from Stan and the Disneyland Band, Jack’s son Troy invited everyone to join the family for a reception in the room next door.
Of course, it featured corn dogs.
Walt’s Dream and Jack’s Dedication
The year was 1980 and the company that went by Walt’s name (Walt Disney Productions back then) was much smaller than the behemoth of today. Walt Disney Productions, WED, and Disneyland were pretty much joined at the hip and anyone who’d worked there at just about any level for more than a few years at least recognized each other. And while it had quietly slipped from the conversation following Walt’s passing, pretty much everyone knew what you were talking about when you said EPCOT.
As Jack Lindquist’s colleagues and co-workers go, I was pretty much the least of them. My background included working with his son Dave at Sunkist way back in the early 1970s and a nodding acquaintance with Troy a few years later when he was in Marketing and I in Cast Communications.
A few months earlier, I had moved from the Disney University at Disneyland to the Walt Disney Studios, to work as a Senior Copywriter in Marketing. I thought it was cool enough that I’d been assigned to Jack’s old office in the Roy O. Disney Building, but then came the day Jack called me to come over to his “newer” office in the original Animation Building.
“I want to tell you what we’re doing about EPCOT,” Jack began.
What? My ears tingled at the name, brought back from seeming obscurity. EPCOT was going to happen? No doubt, much had already been happening but to me, it was first reference in many years to a project I’d figured was almost permanently shelved.
“Well, we can’t do exactly what Walt wanted,” Jack continued, almost apologetically. “We tried. Oh, we really did. But it just wasn’t going to happen. So here’s what we have in mind.”
And Jack briefly laid out the early 1980 concept for Epcot and World Showcase—what if basically became—and told me about a little assignment he was putting me on, to accompany an Orlando magazine editor for a one week tour of WED (now Imagineering) in order to meet the pavilion designers and see what they were developing.
It was a week I’ll never forget, on an assignment from a man I’ll never forget. And while it’s just one memory among many, whenever I think of Epcot and the fact that the folks Walt entrusted with his dream saw it through to the best of their abilities—I’ll see Jack in his office that day, with that ever beaming smile. He made me feel like I was in on his secret. He had a way of doing that.