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Rose York, Industry Legend, Dies at 92

Services were held last week for Rose York, 92, who died June 14.

York joined husband Manny's company — Countess York — in 1948 when it was a basic bedding manufacturer, and over the years led it to innovative directions in basic and more decorative bedding. The company later was purchased by Hollander Home Fashions.

York was a major woman executive in the era when women were scarce in any managerial positions in home textiles manufacturing or retailing. She was known for her mentoring of young retailers and the dynamic product developments that Countess York brought to the marketplace.

She was considered a true leader in innovation, bringing many of today's concepts of decorative bedding to the market, as well as one of the first with bed-in-a-bag. The concept of branded fiber in bed pillows was a York innovation, as was using flannel as a decorative bedding product.

To Sue Kronick, vice chair, Federated Department Stores, “Rose was a unique and wonderful person. She was a smart, feisty, and energetic woman who made her mark on our industry long before” there were many women in the business.

For Charlie Chinni, executive vp, JCPenney, “No one represents our industry better than Rose did, based on her character and professionalism. I knew Rose personally, and she befriended and taught me when I was a young buyer. She will be missed.”

“I remember her as one of the most gracious and intelligent people I have ever met. Even at her age, she was always in the present, not in the past,” said Anita Iodice, president of Company Store. “She truly was a rare person, and led an amazing life.”

“She was a leader, an innovator in design, style and lifestyle looks,” remarked veteran retail executive Steve Goldberg. “Over the years she led a critical vendor for the department store channel, and we all loved her a lot.”

Goldberg added, “She was a true entrepreneur — and a mentor to so many in the industry — and she was a role model for women in industry.”

Looking back many years to her days at Gimbels, Yvette Bayron, Internet content manager for Domestications, recalled “how especially generous Rose was to buyers. She gave the benefits of all her knowledge and she taught us all so much.”

York, later head of Rose York Associates, served as the first woman president of the Feather and Down Association, and served on then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's Upholstery and Bedding Advisory Board. She was a board member of the Hebrew Institute of Long Island.

In 1992, York was one of the recipients of the then National Bed, Bath & Linen Association's Legends of the Industry award. She also was named a Dean of the Industry by the Home Fashion Products Association

She is survived by three sons, Alen, one of the principals of Stellar Alliance, Judd and Jesse; and five grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to a charity of one's choice in her name.

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