Richard Gerth, longtime Walt Disney World cast member who was well-known for greeting guests at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, has died, according to a Facebook page devoted to him.
He was reportedly 92 years old.
Gerth frequently was seen at the entrance to the hotel, dressed in a cream-colored three-piece suit and hat. He was known among Disney fans for his smile and friendly demeanor. His blue Disney name tag was indication that he was a recipient of the Disney Legacy Award, an honor given to Disney employees for exemplary customer service.
“With his trademark smile, a twinkle in his eye, and a tip of his straw boater hat to everyone he met, Richard Gerth was an indelible part of millions of Walt Disney World memories, and we will all miss him greatly,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World, said Thursday.
Erika Roberts, who lives in Tallahassee, said she had first met Gerth at the Grand Floridian when she was 15 years old and that she stopped by to see him repeatedly over the years. He escorted her from the hotel to the limo on her wedding day, she said.
“He was such a great man. He really embodied everything that the Grand Floridian is supposed to be for people – this elegance, this grace, this sense of home,” said Roberts, a staff writer with the Main Street Mouse website.
“I will miss his smile,” said Denise Preskitt, owner of the Mousesteps website. “At an age when many plan to retire, Richard began his nearly 30 years at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Some of my favorite memories of him are around Christmas as he roasted chestnuts outside the resort for guests.”
Gerth “wasn’t always good at remembering people’s names, but he always remembered their stories,” Roberts said. He told good stories himself and gave good advice, she said.
“He gave me the best marriage advice on the way to the car,” she said.
Expressions of sympathy were posted on Twitter and other social media using words like “icon,” “legend,” “beloved” and “nicest, cutest man in the whole world.