Longtime furniture exec Fred Starr dies from coronavirus

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Fred Starr, former president and CEO of Thomasville Furniture Industries and Natuzzi Americas, passed away April 1 from complications from the coronavirus, according to his obituary. Starr was 87.

The longtime furniture executive got his start in the industry in 1957, with a sales assignment for Armstrong World Industries. He followed that with several management positions before joining Thomasville Furniture, an Armstrong subsidiary, in 1974. He became president and CEO in 1982, and during his 16-year tenure, was credited with tripling the residential furniture manufacturer's annual sales to well over $500 million.  He came out of retirement in 2001 to become president and CEO of Natuzzi Americas, a position he held until 2008. Starr most recently served as chairman and CEO of Thompson Traders, a specialty kitchen and bath manufacturer.

According to the obituary, Starr is survived by his wife of 62 years, Sue Zook Starr, three children: Jonathan Starr and Kate Schoff of Annapolis, Maryland, Curtis Starr and wife, Amy, of Fairfax, Virginia, and Anne Denny and husband Glenn, of Greensboro; seven grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. A private service for the family will be held followed by a memorial service at a date to be announced. Memorial donations can be given to the Eastern Music Festival, PO Box 22026, Greensboro, NC 27420.


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Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]