Services have been held for Charles G. Thalhimer Sr., the former vice chairman of the Virginia-based Thalhimers department store chain. Thalhimer died Tuesday at VCU Medical Center in Richmond after a brief illness. He was 94.
Thalhimer was the fourth generation to work in the family business, which was founded as a dry goods store in Richmond in 1842 and was that city’s first department store. At its peak, Thalhimers operated dozens of stores in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Thalhimers was acquired by Carter Hawley Hale in 1978 and was sold to May Department Store Co. in 1990. Two years later, it was merged into May Co.’s Washington, D.C.-based Hecht Co. division and nearly all the locations were renamed Hecht’s. The stores that remain are now under the Macy’s banner, since Macy’s Inc.’s predecessor company, Federated Department Stores Inc., bought May Co.
According to an obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Thalhimers was merged into Hecht’s, leading to store closures and layoffs, and although he had left the business eight years before, Thalhimer donated $1 million to establish an emergency assistance program for the affected workers.
Thalhimer had worked for the business for 50 years and retired as vice chairman in 1986. “He started as a men’s hat buyer after the war,” his son, Harry Thalhimer, said. “He lived life to the fullest up until the very end.” His son said Thalhimer split his time between Richmond, Marco Island, Fla., and an apartment in New York City. “He was still a retailer at heart,” Harry Thalhimer said. “He would call me and tell me how he loved the art in the H&M windows and said Ralph Lauren’s women’s store was the most amazing in the world.”
In 1992, Thalheimer was given the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award by the Capital Area District of the Virginia Council on Social Welfare and he was inducted into the Greater Richmond Business Hall of Fame in 1997. He was active in the United Way and a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University business school advisory board, and a board member of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.
In addition to his son, Thalhimer is survived by his wife, Sibyl Herzog Thalhimer; a daughter, Ellen T. Holland of Atlanta; a stepson; a stepdaughter, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.