Some really beautiful sentiments can be found on-line regarding Joe Ranft (1960-2005). Here’s a handful that stood out to me. The complete entries can be read by clicking on the writer’s names.
“My personal memories are of things like Joe and John [Lasseter] doing James Brown riffs as “Toy Story” charactersâ€¦Joe performing an entire lunch as Billy Bob Thornton’s gravel-voiced character from “Sling Blade” (“Some people call it a crescent rollâ€¦I call it a sling rollâ€¦”) Entertaining people came as naturally to Joe as swimming does to a dolphin. He didn’t do it to become a star at Sea World, he did it because it’s who he was. He would casually pull a deck of cards out of his pocket and show you some close-up magic, do voices, draw caricatures, tell a story, and it all wove in and out of the most easygoing and kindhearted and unforced conversations. Kindhearted. That was Joe. Maybe the sweetest soul I’ve ever known. I don’t think I ever heard Joe Ranft say an unkind word about anyone. He felt and experienced life with a kind of boundless gratitude for who he was, and the people with whom he surrounded himself. It was like he woke up every day genuinely surprised at his good fortune.” – Mike Bonifer (it’s well worth reading the whole entry on this one)
“I wanted to BE Joe Ranft … envying a man’s life who I never met. Plus, I could tell in his writings that he was a warm man, full of good humor. A man I would hope to someday shake hands with and … dare I dream … get to work with. …It saddens me greatly that I will never have the opportunity to thank the man who has meant so much to me in terms of inspiration and direction.” – Barry Smith
“A moment of silence. For Joe Ranft, yet another of the most brilliant, most professional, and most gracious people I had the incredible good fortune of knowing, however briefly, at Pixar. He was an amazingly kind man, and a generous mentor who packed every borrowed hour with years’ worth of lessons. It seems like there should be earthquakes, given the Joe-sized hole in the world; even mentioning my own grief seems kind of selfish. Maybe I should just watch A Bug’s Life again.” – Jessica Donohoe
“I cannot imagine the grief his family and friends must be feeling. I feel absolute shock and numbness, it reminds me of the way I felt after September 11th.” – Bloomsday
“And I feel some small sense of loss myself, just from seeing Ranft’s name so prominently in the credits of all of the Pixar movies. It’s always amazing to me just how much the passing of someone whom I don’t know at all can touch me just from the quality of his work. And for all of the technical skill and visual wizardry the crew at Pixar possess, it’s the stories and characters in each of their movies that make me love these movies as much as I do, and the high quality of those stories can be credited at least partially to Joe Ranft.” – J. Allen Holt