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DISNEY LEGEND LUCILLE MARTIN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO WALT DISNEY
AND TWO DISNEY CEOs FOR 42 YEARS, DIES AT AGE 90
BURBANK, Calif., October 26, 2012 - Lucille Martin, who started at The Walt Disney Studios as a personal secretary to Walt Disney, and rose through the ranks to serve as vice president and special assistant to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors at the time of her retirement in 2006, passed away at her home in Studio City, California, on October 24 due to complications from cancer. She was 90 years old. During her tenure with Disney, she also served as executive assistant to two Disney CEOs, Ron Miller and Michael Eisner. In 2007, The Walt Disney Company inducted her as a "Disney Legend" for her numerous contributions over four decades.
Commenting on Martin's passing, Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, "From the day Lucille Martin stepped into Walt Disney's office as his personal assistant in 1965, she brought her warm smile and kind ways to the studio every day of her 42 years with Disney. Lucille's compassion, dedication and love for Disney are what made her such a valued colleague, treasured friend and Disney Legend. I speak for everyone at Disney in extending our most heartfelt condolences to Lucille's family-she will be greatly missed."
Martin was a young single mother of two girls in 1964 when she joined the secretarial pool at The Walt Disney Studios. She soon found herself assigned to Walt Disney's office where she became part of his inner circle during the last year of his life.
Martin recalled, "I thought they had the wrong person when they sent me up to work in Walt's office. He made me feel comfortable right away.He saw himself as an ordinary guy. Still, I had a hard time not calling him 'sir.' I'd say, 'Yes, sir,' and he'd say, smiling, 'Yes, Walt.' After about a week he gave me a drawing of a girl carrying a sign that read, 'Down with Sir!' I kept it on my intercom the whole time I worked for him.
"Walt was generous," she added. "When he found out that I'd never flown on a plane, he closed the office and included me on a flight to San Diego. He was sentimental, too. He went to the dailies every afternoon, and if there were touching scenes he was not ashamed to dab his eyes. 'Gotta remember to bring the Kleenex,' he'd say."
Martin worked in Walt's office over a two-year period. After his passing in 1966, she became an executive assistant to Ron Miller as he ascended to president of the Company and later CEO. In 1984, incoming CEO Michael Eisner asked her to stay on in that role to assist him.
In 1995, Martin was promoted to vice president and special assistant to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors, where she served as a liaison between the Company and the Board. She held that post up until her retirement from the Company in January 2006.
Born and raised in Zeigler, Illinois, Martin attended Southern Illinois Normal University, and had originally intended to become a teacher. But when the young single mother of a 5- and 10-year-old moved to Southern California after World War II, and discovered that her Illinois credential was not valid, she entered the business world as a secretary.
Martin is survived by her daughter Janet Hoey-Klick, her son-in-law, Michael Klick, and her granddaughter, Caitlin Hoey-Klick. Another daughter, Sue, passed away in 1998. She was married to Don Martin from 1969 until his death in 2009.
Martin will be interred at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar, California. Plans for a family memorial will be announced shortly.
Lucille was awesome. One of the nicest people on the third floor. I hope her retirement was just as awesome.
When I worked as the office lead in Guest Relations for many years I talked to Lucille nearly everyday. She was one of the nicest people I got to know at the studio. I will miss her. My prayers are with her family. Bless you Lucille. You were a class act. Linda Cope Allan