Norman Hilton, who ran an eponymous Ivy League clothing brand and was Ralph Lauren’s first investor, died yesterday at the age of 92, his son Nick told Ivy-Style.com.
Hilton’s motto was “Doing One Thing Well” and his logo features a weathervane. Tonight it points not north or south, east or west, but towards the sky.
Below is a copy of Hilton’s obituary, provided by his son:
Norman Joseph Hilton, 92, passed away peacefully at his residence on St. Simons Island, on Monday October 31, 2011. Formerly a resident of Rumson, New Jersey, Mr. Hilton resided at Sea Island and St. Simons Island since 1995.
Born April 13, 1919 in Newark, New Jersey to Alexander and Lillian G. Hilton, Mr. Hilton attended Newark Academy and Princeton University. Upon graduation from Princeton in June, 1941, Hilton enrolled in graduate school, at Harvard Business School, in Cambridge. Mr. Hilton entered the U.S. Navy, achieving rank of Lieutenant, during World War II. He met Constance Carens of Wellesley, Massachusetts, in that period and the couple were wed in July, 1947.
Mr. Hilton entered his family’s 80-year-old clothing manufacturing and retail business and quickly became a pioneer of the emerging “Ivy League” look in menswear. His Norman Hilton brand of fine, traditional suits and sport jackets achieved nation-wide renown for quality and style, and his collection thrived for nearly five decades in men’s clothing stores from coast to coast.
In 1967, Mr. Hilton made the first significant investment in a business venture begun by a then-young employee by the name of Ralph Lauren, effectively making Hilton the man who helped to found Polo Ralph Lauren, now a multi-billion-dollar, worldwide enterprise.
Hilton was selected by Burberry of London to lead their efforts in the US, overseeing the growth of sales of the Burberry brand in America thirty-fold between 1975 and 1987. His ability to see the marketing potential of a brand and an idea were responsible for the continuing series of successful ventures to which he dedicated himself.
Mr. Hilton participated in the Board of Directors of Riverview Hospital in Red Bank, New Jersey. He was an avid golfer and member of elite clubs, including Sea Island, Ocean Forest, Pine Valley, and the Royal Company of Edinburgh Golfers, at Muirfield, Scotland. He also was an avid New York Giants football supporter, and enjoyed walking for relaxation. Mr. Hilton was also a member of St. William Catholic Church on St. Simons Island.
Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Constance Hilton of St. Simons Island, three sons, Norman Junior (Nick) of Skillman, NJ, Alexander, of Oklahoma City, OK, and Dr. Thomas Hilton of Jacksonville, FL, as well as one daughter, Laura Hilton of Brunswick, GA, and thirteen grandchildren.
A memorial Mass will be held at 2PM Thursday at St. William Catholic Church on St. Simons Island with Monsignor John Kenneally and Father George Greenway officiating. Memorials may be made to Amity House or the charity of your choice. Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.