George T. Delacorte, founder of Dell Publishing Co. and a philanthropist whose gifts became Central Park landmarks, died Saturday at his Fifth Avenue apartment. He was 97.

Delacorte, who kept another residence in North Palm Beach, Fla., died in his sleep, said his son, Albert.Delacorte grew up in New York and reared a family of six children, developing a special attachment to Central Park. Even in his 90s, the publishing magnate like to walk the Manhattan park and visit his gifts.

There was the bronze Alice in Wonderland statue he donated to the city in 1959, a fixture at the north end of the Conservatory Pond. He intended it as a memorial to his late first wife Margarita, who like to read the Lewis Carroll book to their children.

He retired from Dell in 1976, when the company was sold to Dou-bleday & Co.