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Walter Hoving (December 2, 1897 – November 27, 1989) was a Swedish-born American businessman and writer. He was the chairman of Tiffany & Company from 1955 to 1980.[1]

Walter Hoving
WHOVING1.jpg
Born(1897-12-02)December 2, 1897
DiedNovember 27, 1989(1989-11-27) (aged 91)
NationalityAmerican
EducationDe Witt Clinton High School
Alma materBrown University
OccupationFormer chairman of Tiffany & Company
Spouse(s)
Mary Osgood Field
(m. 1924; div. 1936)

Pauline Vandervoort Rogers
(m. 1937; her death 1976)

Jane Pickens Langley
(m. 1977; his death 1989)
ChildrenThomas Hoving
Petrea Hoving Durand
Parent(s)Johannes Hoving
Helga Rundberg Hoving

Early lifeEdit

Hoving was born in Stockholm on December 2, 1897.[2] He was a son of Johannes Hoving, a surgeon,[3] and Helga (née Rundberg) Hoving, an opera singer.[4] His brother was the dentist, Dr. Hannes Hoving.[3] In 1931, his father, who planned the Jenny Lind centennial memorial celebration, was decorated by King Gustaf V of Sweden with the Royal Order of the Northern Star, 1st class, as well as the Cross of the Royal Order of the House of Vasa.[5]

In 1903, he moved to United States with his parents. He completed his school education at the Barnard School and De Witt Clinton High School in New York City. In the year 1920, Hoving received his bachelor's degree from Brown University,[6] where he was a member of the Upsilon chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.[4]

CareerEdit

He started working in 1924 at R. H. Macy & Company and became vice-president at the age of 30. He studied arts at Metropolitan Museum for four years to enhance his knowledge of painting, textile design and furniture. In the year, 1932 he joined Montgomery Ward & Company as vice-president in charge of sales where he worked for four years. In 1936, he joined Lord & Taylor,[7] and worked as the president of the firm until 1946.

Hoving founded the Hoving Corporation in 1946, which included Bonwit Teller until he sold it in 1960.[8]

Tiffany & CompanyEdit

 
Hoving at Tiffany & Co.

Hoving bought a controlling share of Tiffany & Co. in 1955, at that time company's performance appeared to be gradually declining with around $7 million worth of business a year.[9] Under his supervision, company's sales grew up to $100 million by the year 1980.[1]

He hired Van Day Truex, a design director and allowed him to design freely without worrying about selling it. He also hired famous designers like Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, and Gene Moore. Moore went on to design Tiffany's famous Fifth Avenue windows.[1]

Hoving maintained standards at Tiffany & Co. by refusing to sell diamond rings to men, nothing silver plated and no account charged for customers who had been impolite towards the salespeople.[1]

Sales to John F. KennedyEdit

Hoving made two sales to President John F. Kennedy. Once in 1960, Hoving met then President-elect, after store hours, and assisted him in selecting a brooch by Jean Schlumberger with rubies and diamonds for Jacqueline Kennedy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed the brooch in the exhibition Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years.[10]

Kennedy contacted Hoving again in 1962 and requested thirty two Lucite calendar mementos for his assistants who helped him during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoving's responded with the gist that they don't sell plastic. However, Tiffany's provided mementos to Kennedy made of silver.[11]

Later yearsEdit

Avon Products, Inc. acquired Tiffany & Company in 1979. Hoving resigned following year and started his own consulting firm that specialized in retail design and management and started work on his memoirs that were never published. He also focused his efforts on his philanthropic activities and stayed at his home in Newport, Rhode Island. He contacted David Mitchell then Chairman of Avon offering to purchase back Tiffany & Company, but his offers were never seriously entertained. Henry B. Platt took over Tiffany & Company as the chairman after Hoving's resignation but was fired five months later on the grounds of incompetency.

In an interview for The New York Times, Angela Cummings stated: At Tiffany's I met Walter Hoving, she recalled, and he looked at the little portfolio I had and said, You want to work for us, go ahead and try. It was like a threat, but at the time I didn't even know who he was.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

 
Hoving with Jane Pickens Langley

In 1924, Hoving married Mary Osgood Field (1901–1955), the daughter of Thomas Pearsall Field and Emma Beadleston. Mary was a direct descendant of Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster General of the United States. Before their divorce in 1936, they were the parents of:

In 1937, he became the fourth husband of the former Pauline Vandervoort (1889–1976).[15] Her first husband, John Steese, had died; her second husband, Carl Kirsch Dresser, divorced in 1927; and her third husband, Col. Henry Huddleston Rogers Jr. (a son of Standard Oil millionaire Henry Huddleston Rogers), whom she married in 1933, died in Southampton in 1935.[16] After a long illness, Pauline died in 1976.[17]

He married former singer Jane Pickens Langley (1907–1992) in 1977, and their marriage lasted until his death.[4] Langley owned the designed by Ogden Codman Berkley Villa on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island.[15]

He died at Newport Hospital in Newport at the age of 91 on November 27, 1989. He was survived by a son, daughter, and four grandchildren, John Hoving, Samuel Osgood Hoving, Thomas Durand and Petrea Hoving.[18]

Philanthropy and legacyEdit

Hoving was also the founder of Walter Hoving Home, a rehabilitation center for women with drug addiction and alcoholism.[6] He was a co-founder of the Salvation Army Association of New York, and gave his time to the United Negro College Fund and the United Service Organizations, USO.

BooksEdit

  • Tiffany's Table Manners for Teen-agers (Random House, 1960)
  • Your Career in Business (Tiffany & Co., 1978)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d New York Times News Service (November 29, 1989). "WALTER HOVING, 91; HEADED TIFFANY`S FROM 1955 TO 1980". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  2. ^ Benson, Adolph B.; Naboth Hedin Swedes In America (New York: Haskell House Publishers, Inc. 1969)
  3. ^ a b "DR. AND MRS. HOVING FETED; St. Erik Society Gives Medals to Founder and Wife" (PDF). The New York Times. 17 May 1934. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Walter Hoving, Punctilious Head Of Tiffany for 25 Years, Dies at 91". The New York Times. 28 November 1989. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Swedish King Decorates Dr. Hoving" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 July 1931. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Walter Hoving '20". Brown Alumni Magazine (November / December 2000). Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  7. ^ "CHOSEN BY LORD & TAYLOR; Walter Hoving Made Director and Chairman -- Dividend Voted" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 March 1936. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  8. ^ He Tries God : Walter Hoving ("The Overcomers". Russell Chandler, author. Fleming H. Revell Company, 1978)
  9. ^ "Tiffany Control Sold by Genesco; 52% Interest Bought by Group Led by Walter Hoving" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 October 1961. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  10. ^ Fashion: Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 1 to July 29, 2001. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2001. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  11. ^ "For Tiffany's Walter Hoving Silence May Be Golden, but Sounding Off Is Irresistible". People. 5 (14). April 12, 1976. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Petrea Hoving Durand". The New York Times. June 28, 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  13. ^ "PETREA F. HOVING IS MARRIED HERE; Daughter of Merchant Wed to Harry Stewart Durand in St. Bartholomew's" (PDF). The New York Times. 7 March 1954. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  14. ^ Kennedy, Randy (10 December 2009). "Thomas Hoving, Bold Remaker of Met in the '70s, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  15. ^ a b Adams, Michael Henry (21 May 2010). "Thomas Hoving, Wendy Burden and the End of Elite Privelige?". HuffPost. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  16. ^ "MRS. ROGERS WED TO WALTER HOVING'; Widow of Col. Henry H. Rogers Becomes Bride of President of Lord & Taylor; CEREMONY AT HER HOME; Couple Sails for Bermuda--Her Son, B.S. Dresser, and Bride Witness Wedding" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 May 1937. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Pauline V. Hoving, Wife Of the Tiffany Executive, Dies After a Long Illness". The New York Times. 25 October 1976. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Walter Hoving; Tiffany's No-Nonsense Leader". Los Angeles Times. 29 November 1989. Retrieved 19 June 2019.

External linksEdit