At the time of John Hench's death in 2004 He was 96 and still maintaining an office in Imagineering. He had worked for the Disney Company for over 65 years as artist and philosopher king. Hench was the conscience of Imagineering. The tall firm reminder that the theming in Disney parks had balance and a purpose.
He had started as a sketch artist in 1939, moved over to the special effects department and then helped to create Disneyland from the beginning. His concept drawing for the monorail is one of the most iconic pieces of art known to Disney collectors and enthusiasts. As "Mickeys official portrait artist", he had rendered Mickey on significant birthdays since 1953.
While it's hard to believe next year will be a celebration of a century since his birth, It's even harder to believe he's been gone for 3 years.
Does the picture at the top look familiar? It's a Dorothea Redmond sketch for one of the tile murals inside Cinderella's Castle at WDW. The tall gentleman standing with the pencil thin moustache is Redmond''s homage to John Hench. He now stands at the gate to Fantasyland, a truly fitting tribute
You can learn a little more about John Hench on Disney's Legends site here
By the way, Hench's book titled "Designing Disney" co-written with Peggy Van Pelt is like a graduate course in theme park color theory. If you're really into the theme park thing, ya gotta read this one.