DALLAS — Terry Thornton, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of furs, coats, bridal and dresses at Neiman Marcus, died Jan. 26 at home from a rare cancer of the blood, according to company spokeswoman Gabrielle de Papp. He was 60.
A celebration of Thornton’s life is planned for Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Hotel ZaZa here.
“Terry was a true gentleman and a terrific merchant,” said Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Group Inc. “He had a great eye for finding new vendors and selecting key items. Most importantly, Terry was a terrific person — caring, funny, smart and loyal.”
Ann Stordahl, the senior vice president and general merchandise manager to whom Thornton reported until mid-December, called him “an icon” in the fur industry.
“He was one of those rare executives and buyers who went by more than the numbers,” said Bennett Model, president and co-owner of Cassin and co-chairman of the Fur Industry Council of America. “He was a merchant. He learned about and understood the product he was buying, and that’s what made him so different.”
Thornton served on FICA’s board for about 10 years and was twice named Fur New York Man of the Year. He also chaired the public relations committee of the International Fur Trade Federation, advising furriers on ways to counter the antifur movement.
Jerry Sorbara, owner of his namesake fur company, said, “I had the pleasure of knowing Terry Thornton for 35 years. From the first day I met him, I knew this man had an extraordinary keen eye for fashion.”
Thornton was born in Dallas and graduated from the University of Texas in 1972. He joined Neiman’s in 1973 as a sales associate in the downtown flagship’s fur salon. Thornton then held several management positions at Neiman’s two stores in Chicago before he was promoted to fur buyer in 1988. He later also assumed responsibility for coats.
Thornton was promoted to associate divisional merchandise manager for furs and coats in 1999 and to vice president and dmm for furs, coats and bridal in 2003. In 2009 he was given the additional responsibility of dresses.
Thornton was buried Saturday at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wolfe City in East Texas.
He is survived by his partner of 20 years, Angelo Alcala of Dallas; father Gilbert Thornton of Irving, Texas; brother Jerry and his wife, Hilda, of Katy, Texas; three nephews, five great nieces and one great nephew.
In lieu of flowers, Thornton had requested that donations be made to the North Texas/Oklahoma chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or to DIFFA/Dallas, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.