Robert George, 74, White House Santa Claus from the Dwight D. Eisenhower through George Bush administrations. A Nebraska barber, George had a vision in 1949 that he was to become Santa Claus. He assumed the identity year-round and in 1956 was invited to join the White House Christmas tree-lighting ceremonies. The yearly visits became a habit. Each December, he also helped local firefighters distribute toys to needy children. But around the calendar, George distributed donated toys to disabled and terminally ill children, and baked cookies and made fudge to take to the elderly in convalescent homes. His assumed persona included decorating his home for Christmas all year long. When the city of Glendale shut him down in 1987 by declaring the tourist-attracting house a public nuisance, George moved into the city of Los Angeles and decorated his new house. On Wednesday in Sun Valley of congestive heart failure.
Ronald L. Mace; Founder of Center for Universal Design
Ronald L. Mace, 56, who helped make public buildings more accessible to the disabled. A North Carolina State University research professor, Mace was also director and founder of its Center for Universal Design. Confined to a wheelchair since he contracted polio at age 9, Mace created the architectural concept of “universal design,” which provides easy use by all people whether handicapped or not. The center redesigns everything from thermostats to vacuum cleaners. Mace specifically served as design consultant for modification of the U.S. Capitol and construction of the Holocaust Museum and Kennedy Center in Washington. President George Bush presented him with a distinguished service award in 1992. On Monday in Raleigh, N.C.
William L. Snyder; Animation Producer Who Won Oscar for ‘Munro’
William L. Snyder, 80, Academy Award-winning animation producer who brought children’s books to the screen. Working with animator Gene Deitch in Prague in the late 1950s, Snyder collected five Oscar nominations and won the statuette in 1960 for “Munro,” Jules Feiffer’s eight-minute film about a 4-year-old boy who is drafted into the army. Snyder, a pioneer in doing business in Eastern Europe after World War II, founded Rembrandt Films in 1949 to import films. The company also produced animated films, and specialized in the animation of classic children’s books. Rembrandt adapted Ludwig Bemelmans’ “Madeline” series, James Thurber’s “Many Moons” and Eve Titus’ “Anatole.” Snyder and his company also produced “Tom and Jerry” cartoons for MGM-United Artists and “Popeye” cartoons for King Features. On June 3 in Livingston, N.Y.