Audrey Geisel, the widow of Springfield-born children’s author Dr. Seuss and longtime overseer of his literary estate, has died.
Random House Children’s Books announced that she died Wednesday at age 97. She died “peacefully” at her home in La Jolla, California.
Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, died in 1991 — two years before Audrey Geisel founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Numerous publishing projects followed, along with the Broadway show “Seussical.” She also served as executive producer for some film adaptations of his work, most recently “The Grinch,” which came out last month.
Geisel also helped establish the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden and The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield in 2017.
She was a Chicago native whose parents broke up when she was little and who as an adult would be in the middle of two broken marriages. She and Theodor Geisel, who was 17 years older, were both married to others when they began an affair in the 1960s. Theodor Geisel’s first wife, Helen, killed herself and Audrey Geisel sent away the two daughters she had with her first husband after she and the author married in 1968.
“They wouldn’t have been happy with Ted, and Ted wouldn’t have been happy with them. He’s the man who said of children, ‘You have ‘em and I’ll entertain ‘em,’” she told The New York Times in 2000. “Ted’s a hard man to break down, but this is who he was. He lived his whole life without children and he was very happy without children. I’ve never been very maternal. There were too many other things I wanted to do. My life with him was what I wanted my life to be.”