Though Maurice Sendak is best known for creating a child's fantasyland replete with wild forests and frightening monsters, the author and illustrator was also tuned in to the hardships real-life kids face.
The creator of the beloved "Where the Wild Things Are" died Wednesday at 83 after suffering a stroke, leaving behind a quiet legacy of giving to needy families.
Without much fanfare, the author -- known for his curmudgeonly public persona -- gave $1 million in 2010 to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Wall Street Journal reported. The mental-health and social services agency provides services to New York's needy families.
Sendak gave the gift in honor of his partner, Eugene D. Glynn, a psychiatrist, who died in 2007 after working for 30 years for the agency.
"Leading a selfish life is unbearable…what Eugene did to save lives, I am trying to do artistically," Sendak told the Wall Street Journal. "You can't memorialize someone like Eugene, there are few people like him in the world with his heart and social consciousness…all I'm doing is contributing to something he would have wanted to do."
Sendak didn't do much to publicize his million-dollar gift. Thom Hamill, the social agency's director of development and philanthropy, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy the author was a private person:
“It wasn’t about his ego; it wasn’t about his name.”
Since the 1960s, Sendak had also been donating his books and illustrations to Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum and Library. The author, who won a Caldecott Medal for "Where the Wild Things Are" in 1964, was on the board of directors.
Museum director Derick Dreher told CBS he'll simply remember Sendak for his kind heart:
“For those people lucky enough to get to know him personally, they would all say he was the greatest friend anybody could have,” Dreher told the news station. “He was a very kind host, a great conversationalist who wanted to know all about you. He was just a dear and loving person.”
PHOTOS: Maurice Sendak through the years:
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