My search for Disneyland newspaper articles and advertisements would be greatly simplified if I only paid attention to those that were obviously about the Park (e.g., "Disneyland Prepares for Job Applicants," Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, May 7, 1961). Instead, I'll give at least a cursory glance to each article that mentions Disneyland to see how it relates, and then determine if it's worth saving. There are certain types of repeating articles that I can immediately discount: those that talk about YMCA trips to Disneyland; articles about meetings, conventions, and speeches at the Disneyland Hotel (while it would be very interesting to compile a list of all of these because of the incredible range of subjects discussed and organizations represented, the task is hopelessly beyond the capabilities of even this thesaurus); and references to something being "a" Disneyland. Yeah, those writers and columnists bandied the term about without regard for how much it clutters up my searches!
But all this effort is redeemed (somewhat) when I come across small bits of information buried in longer articles. I can't always determine the accuracy of this information, but it at least gives me something to check out. Obituaries are one such source for this information, and below I share a few such things for eight people all previously unknown to me before my newspaper searches. For each person I provide a few biographical facts and all I know about the Disneyland connection from the obits; if anybody out there has more information on these people and Disneyland, please leave a comment or contact me!
George W. Smith. Died July 4, 1955. George was a 40-year-old foreman at Disneyland and had worked at MGM's set department for 20 years before going to Disneyland. No cause of death is listed, which heightens my curiosity about this man and his role in Disneyland's construction.
Ford B. Dicker. Guest who died July 4, 1959 at Disneyland of a heart attack. He was an executive in the assembly division at General Motors. I don't know the earliest fatality in Disneyland's history (unrelated to anything mechanical), but this seems pretty early. Other noteworthy heart attacks: on June 22, 1960, a 42-year-old member of the royal party of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand died of a heart attack while visiting Disneyland, and on October 21, 1962, singer Monette Moore of the Young Men from New Orleans performing group collapsed on Main Street and died from a heart attack.
Emil E. Mazenec. Died June 8, 1963. Emil was the 45-year-old director of the Disneyland Polka Band. He was previously a trombonist with "many big name bands" before coming to Anaheim or Disneyland (the obituary is unclear) eight years before. (Actually, the obituary gives the surname as Mazenec, but I think it might be spelled Mazanec.)
Kafpar Burgi. Died July 10, 1963. He was a 57-year-old president of his own landscape construction company, coming to Los Angeles from his native Switzerland in 1927 and entering the landscape business in 1933. He helped landscape Disneyland, Century City, and "a number of other projects."
Harvey T. Gillett. Died October 1963. Harvey was a 58-year-old WED Enterprises employee who served as art director of lessee activities at Disneyland. (Does anybody know what that even means? Did he interface with the lessees to make sure what they wanted to do fit in with the Disneyland aesthetic?) He had previously been an artist for film studios.
John Edwin Barber. Died October 2, 1973. John was a retired financial executive. He was apparently "closely associated with Disney Enterprises and was instrumental in arranging the financing of Disneyland." Unfortunately Buzz Price's book omits an index, so I couldn't easily check to see if he's mentioned there. I do not know how he knew Walt (which he must have if he were so instrumental!).
Daniel S. Hoblick. Died September 25, 1974. Daniel was president of Danly Engineering Co., "which installed the Haunted House ride in Disneyland and most of the rides in Disneyworld." Danly Engineering's web site can be found here. There's not much on the site: "Since 1965. Structural steel fabricators and erectors. Miscellaneous and ornamental iron." Maybe they have some interesting Haunted Mansion records! Daniel's son Stephen is listed as the owner in a recent listing of Huntington Beach business licenses, so I guess it's still a family business.
Walter Fon Lee. Died October 1982. The 65-year-old Walter was a restaurateur; his grandparents had opened the Man Jen Low restaurant, which was LA's oldest Chinese restaurant (in its history it moved around a few times, became General Lee's, and closed in 1987). The article states, "At one time there were Men [sic] Jen Low restaurants at Farmers Market, Disneyland and Pacific Ocean Park." Now, the fact that the obit consistently misspelled the restaurant name as "Men Jen Low" makes me question its veracity. I know of no restaurant in Disneyland's history that fits the description. (The only possibility I see is the Adventureland Bazaar, but Lawson Engineering operated that. The Bazaar, also operated by Lawson, had a Lee Bros. store, but this did not sell food.) The fact that POP is mentioned makes me wonder if "Disneyland" really should have been another amusement park name. Anybody have a guess on this?