Industry says farewell to true gentleman
December 17, 2001,
Friends and colleagues of the late Tom O'Gorman paid their final respects last week — both in New York where he worked and in his hometown of Blackville, NC — to a man many called a gentleman in all that he did.
"He used to love to say that your reputation is the one thing you can control in your life and that it always follows you. And Tom's reputation as a truly beloved person will certainly follow him into heaven," said Gene McCarthy, O'Gorman's friend and colleague of 35 years.
"Tom was a fierce competitor, from his business to his golf. He always wanted to win, but with grace, integrity and fun," added McCarthy, who retired in May 2000 as executive vp of Glenoit. "He was a true Southern gentleman who retained his roots all of his life."
O'Gorman spent his entire career working in the textiles industry after receiving his education at The United States Naval Academy and the University of South Carolina.
Prior to his post at Glenoit, O'Gorman was executive vp and a member of the board of trustees of Greenwood Mills Inc. Other posts in his career included general manager of the menswear division of Milliken and Company, and president of the denim, corduroy and blended fabrics division of Burlington Industries Inc., where he also had been head of the company's denim operations in Europe.
"Tom O'Gorman's passing came as a complete shock to me," Sam Samelson, president and ceo of Ex-Cell Home Fashions, a division of Glenoit Corp., told HTT. "In the time I've known Tom our relationship grew, and he was a fine gentleman in every way. Tom will be missed at Glenoit as well as within our industry, and we all sincerely share in his family's loss."
He served as a member of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute's Textile Market committee and the Steering Committee of the Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A. Council. In addition, he had served on the board of directors of the Men's Fashion Association.
In the public arena, O'Gorman served on the board of directors of the New York Region of National Conference of Christians and Jews, and was a member of the President's Advisory Committee of the National Father's Day Council. He was also actively involved in many charities and organizations in New York.
During his lifetime he received the Torch of Liberty Award from B'nai B'rith, the Good Scout Award from the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Israel Peace Medal from the State of Israel.
Kevin Kennedy, president, Glenoit Corp., who knew O'Gorman for the past 10 years — first as a supplier to Glenoit and later when O'Gorman hired him — said he couldn't say enough kind words about O'Gorman. "He was a wonderful person to work for," Kennedy told HTT. "He treated everyone with the utmost respect, from the plant workers to the division heads. Everyone was the same in his eyes — a person first and an employee second. He was very concerned with people's lives and what he could do to help them."
O'Gorman is survived by his wife, Maureen Manton O'Gorman; three children — Lynn Latchford of Morristown, NJ; Katherine Mjelde of Roanoke, VA; and Michael O'Gorman of Asheville, NC; two sisters and one brother; and numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews.