Losing two of Pixar's greatest contributors in a year is just heartbreaking. I've never met them, but I have met their work.
Dan Lee was an inspirational artist and someone who really understood sketching. It wasn't a chore for him, but a daily routine he enjoyed while sitting in a cafe. He created the design for Nemo in Finding Nemo. Lee was someone who truly lived for his art. Even while undergoing chemotherapy for his lung cancer, he kept on creating designs for Pixar. Just this week, I heard friends of family are launching a book of his sketches (appropriately a coffee table book).
Suddenly Wednesday, Pixar lost another great animator. Joe Ranft worked on numerous animation masterpieces including both Toy Storys, Nightmare Before Christmas, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Brave Little Toaster, and many more. He also did the voice of Heimlich the catepillar in A Bug's Life. He died in a car accident while participating in the program Mosaic, which pairs successful businessmen and people who need help.
I have heard such great comments and stories about these two men. I never knew them, but after they died, I wish I did.