Mark Alan Williams
Grandpa’s Friendship With Walt Disney
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Remembering grandpa Ray Fox on Walt Disney’s 115th birthday.
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Carolyn’s grandpa Ray Fox had a personal friendship with Walt Disney. He was Disney’s lead carpenter for many years. But they also had a personal relationship. You can watch grandpa and Walt Disney together in this California’s Gold video (hosted by Huell Howser).
This is Grandpa Fox with Walt Disney by the Disney Barn (from the video)
The segment about the Disney Barn starts at 12:50. Grandpa Ray Fox is mentioned at 18:58 as head of the carpentry shop.
Grandpa is shown at 20:13 to 20:39 carrying a caboose with Walt Disney and then riding the train right behind Walt.
The narration on another video of the same scene (video quality far inferior) says, “The barn also served as a workshop and a place to relax with friends.” The friend with Disney at that point in the video is grandpa Fox. Indeed, he had a special employer/employee friendship with Walt Disney.
Grandpa was helping Walt with his backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railway. As lead carpenter, he built the Disney Barn, which was also in the Disney’s back yard. The barn had the controls for the railroad.
While Disney’s house at 355 N. Carolwood Drive has been razed and a new home built there, the barn has been preserved. A few years ago, we visited the Disney Barn. It has been moved and is now a museum at Griffith Park in LA. The curators knew who grandpa Fox was and enjoyed meeting some of his family.
Here are 2 biblical reflections on grandpa and his friendship with Walt Disney:
1. Creativity honors God because God is creative.
One of the ways Walt Disney used the barn grandpa built was for creative thinking. The Wikipedia article on Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn says, “Walt Disney’s barn is billed as the ‘birthplace of Imagineering.’ It was in the barn with his trains, that he got one of the very first inspirations for what would eventually be called Disneyland.”
How cool is that. Disneyland was conceived in the barn that Carolyn’s grandpa created!
Carolyn (on the right) and her sister Lynnda visiting the Disney Barn in May, 2013.
Grandpa himself was quite creative as a woodworker. He carved intricate designs and objects both for his work at Disney and at home for enjoyment.
The Almighty God is creative on a whole different level. He created the universe out of nothing! The first 5 words of the Bible are “In the beginning God created.” (Genesis 1:1)
His creation is perhaps the greatest way we know that God exists. Psalm 119:1 says “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (NLT)
When human beings create, we also proclaim the glory of God through creativity. Genesis 1:26; 5:1 & 9:6 all say that we are created in the image of God. We reflect the image of God when we create. We honor God by using the creativity He has gifted us with (if we do it in a moral and honorable way).
2. Death is the great equalizer.
I’m releasing this article on December 5, 2016. This day would have been Walt Disney’s 115th birthday. Walt died in 1966. Grandpa Fox died much later. He didn’t leave a fortune or a vast empire or a famous name like Walt Disney. He lived a simple life in a humble home. His greatest claim to fame was probably his friendship with Walt Disney.
This is our wedding August 4, 1979 with Carolyn between me and grandpa Fox. Every person in this photo has died except Carolyn and myself. This includes Carolyn’s sister Gwen and nephew Jeremy.
But like Disney, when grandpa died, he left everything behind.
Death levels the playing field for the richest to the poorest, the most famous to the most obscure, the most powerful to the least.
After death, the Bible says that one day “…at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”(Philippians 2:10-11 GW)
But while all will eventually acknowledge Jesus, the Bible is clear that not all will end in the same place. Many will end in the darkness of hell. This includes people who appeared to be God-fearing:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NLT)
We don’t choose our earthly parents. But we can choose our Heavenly Father. To learn how to do so and receive eternal life, please click HERE.
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