Werner Gamby, founder of textile importer W. Gamby and Co., died Sunday at his home in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 98.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Gamby survived a concentration camp and in 1940 arrived penniless in New York, according to his granddaughter, Kim Kovel, color design lead at Nike Inc.

He started out pushing carts on Seventh Avenue and worked his way up in the industry, founding W. Gamby and Co. in 1949.


The company became one of the largest textile importers in the U.S., selling printed, dyed and bleached woven goods for the women’s sportswear market, the home furnishing trade and the institutional linen supply trade. Its customers included Levi Strauss, Phillips Van Heusen, Arrow Shirt, Wrangler, Montgomery Ward, Kellwood Co., National Linen Co. and numerous domestic textile print houses and finishing plants. The firm also had an in-house art department that created custom designs for yarn dyeing and printing.

His son-in-law, Ira Kovel, joined W. Gamby & Co. in 1972 and retired as vice president in 2007. Gamby is also survived by a son, Peter; two daughters, Dorothy Kovel and Monica Evslin; grandchildren Kim, Andrea, Jeffrey, Tanya, Noah, Nathaniel and Luke, and nine great-grandchildren.

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