We were a group of geeky kids standing in the hallway of Walt Disney Productions. As you can imagine, we were naturally bedazzled by all the Disney art surrounding us. Not the least of which were the amazing backgrounds created by color stylist, Eyvind Earle for the new movie, Sleeping Beauty. One of the guys in our group was determined to one day become a background artist himself, and I'm delighted to say his dream did indeed come true.
The kid's name was Ron Dias, and I regret to say Ron left us this past Tuesday morning. We received the news of Ron's passing from one of his many friends up in Northern California where Ron made his home. Regretfully, I never got to see Ron's gallery. I believe it was in Marina near Monterey. Having visited that area a number of times I can truly say Ron made a wise choice. This coastal community is downright gorgeous and I can't think of a better place to spend one's golden years.
I included the Sleeping Beauty illustration in this post because I'd venture to guess the Disney motion picture was Ron's favorite. Even while stuck in a grunt job (like most of us) in the animation department, Ron Dias never forgot his dream. He painted on his own time, and began to master the background style of Eyvind Earle. Ron knew what it took to become an animation background artist, and he was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that goal. All of this was a long time ago, and many of those eager young cartoon geeks finally made it out of the in-betweeners “bullpen.” Each of us moved on to become animators, background artists, story artists and directors. You might say this little Disney group managed to realize their dreams and each of us succeeded in their own way. Ron Dias went on to enjoy a long career in the animation business and even after retirement he continued to celebrate the creative industry that had given him so much joy.
The last time I saw Ron Dias was at a Disney event near the Anaheim theme park. As always, Ron was cheerful and upbeat. I still remember the smile on his face and the joy one experiences when you're blessed to spend your life doing what you love. Ron Dias did what he loved and he did it better than most. Goodbye, old friend. We're sure gonna miss that smile.