The Canadian toy industry lost a much-respected member when James Rayburn died on May 11, just weeks before his 75th birthday. Mr. Rayburn, who had a successful 41-year career with The Walt Disney Company (Canada) Ltd., died from complications resulting from a double-lung transplant in 2009.
Mr. Rayburn, known to friends and colleagues as “Jimmy”, joined Disney in 1958 in its Canadian licensing operations. Over the next decade, his responsibilities expanded to include both licensing and music, becoming director of marketing and sales for Walt Disney Music Canada in 1969.
In 1980, Mr. Rayburn was promoted to vice president and general manager of the division. A year later, when Disney Consumer Products merged its music and merchandise operations into The Walt Disney Company (Canada), Mr. Rayburn was promoted to vice president and managing director. He held the position until 1999 when he retired.
According to a 1999 Business Wire article, during his time with Disney Mr. Rayburn was recognized for many accomplishments. In particular, not only did he negotiate a distribution deal with the CBC for The Wonderful World of Disney television show, but he’s also credited for contributing to the huge success of product lines based on the movie Toy Story, which were developed by Toronto’s Thinkway Toys.
A funeral service was held on May 17, 2011 in Orangeville, Ontario, where Mr. Rayburn most recently resided. He leaves behind many relatives including two sisters, six children and 10 grandchildren. Condolences may be sent to the family through Dods and McNair Funeral Home. Also, a brief tribute, including a moment of silent remembrance, was given for Mr. Rayburn by his toy industry colleagues during the recent Hall of Fame induction of Ian Bradley. Mr. Rayburn was also a Canadian Toy Industry Hall of Fame inductee, receiving his award in 2005.
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