BRADENTON, Fla. -- A Suncoast Disney legend widely known for his iconic designs and illustrations celebrated his 99th birthday this week. Still active and drawing, Al Konetzni shares his love of Disney with all the residents in his independent living facility. And this month it's all about him.
Konetzni's home is full of Disney trinkets, artwork, and awards. He has received multiple honors for his contributions to the company as a designer of famous merchandise for nearly 30 years. "I'm the Disney guy. They call me Mickey Mouse. They call me Disney."
At his Bradenton independent living facility, he draws up a caricature every month as his gift to all the residents celebrating their birthday that month. "I can go in my little drawing department there and lose 3 hours like nothin'."
At the young age of 9, his passion for art ignited. "At Christmastime, I said all I want is crayons and paints."
Konetzni exclusively showed ABC 7 his very first drawing. His talent -- undeniable.
He'd been working 18 years as an art director when he first started with Disney. "I designed so many different toys for children."
His popular school bus lunch box sold over 9 million. “Hallmark made a miniature to hang on a Christmas tree."
He also designed the Donald Duck pencil sharper and the iconic tie Walt Disney wore. Konetzni designed dozens of merchandise that have left a lasting mark.
But to him, the thrill and magic of the Disney parks is what keeps his passion alive. "Looking at people's faces, and especially the ones that has children, it was so exciting to see the reaction between the parents and the children."
Even at 99, he will continue to spread the joy and magic of Disney, through his monthly birthday drawings.