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Disney World is supposed to be a place of fun and joy, but this morning it's a slightly sadder place, as one of the resorts' most famous cast members, Richard Gerth, has passed away. He spent nearly 30 years welcoming people to the Grand Floridian Resort, and as the resort is about to celebrate its 30th birthday, he was as much an institution as the building itself. Gerth was 92-years-old.
Richard Gerth said in an interview a few years ago that he never filled out an application for his job as the doorman at the Grand Floridian. He was hired on spot, apparently because somebody at the resort just decided they wanted him. From that day forward Richard would be the one to welcome you if you stayed at the Grand Floridian resort during your Walt Disney World vacation. Returning guests would make a point to stop and get a picture with Gerth every time they spent time at the parks. Getting a picture with Gerth was like getting a picture with Mickey Mouse or in front of the castle. It was just something you did every time without even thinking about it. He even had his own Facebook fan page.
As one might expect, Disney World fans are sharing their pictures in remembrance of Richard Geth, including actor and noted Disney fan, John Stamos.
Walt Disney World has always seen a difficult conflict among fans between those who hold tight to tradition and those who are open to change. In the case of Richard Gerth, all of them are likely sad this tradition has come to an end, but now, as with all Disney traditions, something new will begin, which may become a tradition in its own right. Everything will feel quite different when those that return to the Grand Floridian are greeted by a different face and a different smile, but expect Gerth to never be entirely forgotten. In 1991 he received the Disney Legacy Award, the highest award available to a Disney cast member. This outpouring of love is proof that Richard Gerth truly left a legacy which will be part of many lives going forward.