Roy E. DisneyRoy Edward Disney, the nephew of animator Walt Disney, passed away in a Newport Beach, California hospital this morning. He was 79.

Roy’s dad — Roy O. — who co-founded the Disney empire with his Uncle Walt in 1923.

The younger Roy — who had been battling stomach cancer for more than a year — “played a key role in the revitalization of the Walt Disney Co. and Disney’s animation legacy,” the company said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times this afternoon.

Born in 1930, Roy worked for the company as a writer and producer. But his most important influence was as a Disney shareholder who led two investor revolts.

“As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King.’”

Roy Disney is survived by ex-wife Patty, daughters Abigail and Susan, sons Roy and Timothy and 16 grandchildren. A private funeral service and cremation are planned, according to The Disney Company. His ashes will be scattered at sea.

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