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Patrick H. Norton of La-Z-Boy Dies

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Patrick H. Norton, chairman emeritus of La-Z-Boy Incorporated and the company’s former chairman of the board, has died. Norton passed away on Dec. 4, 2008, after a short illness in Greensboro, N.C., the company announced. Norton was 86 years old. Norton was a furniture industry pioneer and leader for more than 50 years as well as a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Force. Norton began his career in the furniture department at a St. Louis-based retailer in 1939 after attending Washington University. Interrupted by five years of wartime service, Norton returned to furniture retailing and later became vice president of sales and a member of the board of Baumritter/Ethan Allen before moving to La-Z-Boy in 1981. He became chairman of the board in 1997 and is widely credited with transforming the company by building its brand, widening its product offering and distribution system and establishing the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries® store system. Kurt Darrow, CEO of La-Z-Boy Incorporated, said: “The furniture business has suffered a great loss with Pat Norton’s passing. He was truly a leader in this industry and a visionary in helping create the furniture landscape we know today, including being the ‘caretaker of the legacy’ left by the La-Z-Boy founders and taking our company to even higher levels. He had a profound impact on the success of La-Z-Boy and on the lives of everyone with whom he worked. Pat was an extraordinary human being and one of the most generous men I’ve ever known. I am deeply saddened to lose not just a mentor and a colleague, but a very dear friend. On behalf of all my colleagues, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to Pat’s family.” An avid industry supporter, Norton served on the board of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association and on the liaison committee with the National Home Furnishings Association. As the first Home Furnishings Council chairman, he worked to unite retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. In 1995, Norton was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame to honor his contributions to the American furniture industry. Other honors include the National Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews as well as the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope. Norton received an honorary Doctorate from High Point University in High Point, N.C., where, in 2000, the school named its Furniture Studies Hall Norton Hall. Additionally, in 1992, members of the La-Z-Boy “extended family,” including sales representatives and dealers, established, in his honor, the Patrick H. Norton Scholarship Fund at the University. A committed and caring husband and father, Norton was preceded in death by his wife LaVerne and son Krell. He is survived by two children, Kevin and Susan, and their families, including three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral service information is pending. About La-Z-Boy Incorporated: La-Z-Boy Incorporated is one of the world’s leading residential furniture producers, marketing furniture for every room of the home. The La-Z-Boy Upholstery Group companies are Bauhaus, England and La-Z-Boy. The La-Z-Boy Casegoods Group companies are American Drew/Lea, Hammary and Kincaid. The corporation’s proprietary distribution network is dedicated exclusively to selling La-Z-Boy Incorporated products and brands, and includes 330 stand-alone La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries® stores and 434 Comfort Studios, in addition to in-store gallery programs at the company’s Kincaid, England and Lea operating units. According to industry trade publication In Furniture, the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries retail network is North America’s largest single-brand furniture retailer. Additional information is available at http://www.la-z-boy.com/.

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