In Loving Memory - Alfred J. Audi, April 11, 1938 - September 29, 2007
Alfred J. Audi, one of the most influential furniture manufacturers of his generation, died peacefully on September 29th at his home in Fayetteville, NY surrounded by his loving family. He was 69.
Alfred J. Audi was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1938 to Dr. Rosa Lee Nemir Audi, one of the earliest women physicians and EJ Audi. Mr. Audi graduated from Colgate University in 1960. He served for three years in the Army National Guard in New York City's 42nd Infantry Division. He served as President of E.J. Audi, Inc., the furniture business founded by his father in 1928.
In 1963, he married Aminy Inati in Beirut, Lebanon. They are members of Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church and earlier members of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, where he served on the Board of Deacons. Throughout the couple's 43- year marriage they were partners in all things and grew more deeply entwined each day.
For more than three decades Mr. Audi presided over L. & J.G. Stickley Furniture, Inc., founded in 1900 and inspired by the American Arts and Crafts pioneer, Gustav Stickley. When he purchased Stickley Furniture in 1974 the company employed 22 people and operated out of a small outdated factory. Together with his wife Aminy, he nurtured the company back to health and eventually to the forefront of American culture. Today Stickley employs over 1600 dedicated employees whom the Audis consider their extended family. It is distributed internationally through a network of around 125 dealers. Stickley Audi & Company, Stickley's retail division, has 13 locations in 5 states. Under Mr. Audi's direction the Stickley brand has gained a reputation for values he held dear: quality craftsmanship, corporate integrity, and timeless value.
In 1974 Louise Stickley, widow of Leopold Stickley, called Mr. Audi as her business faced bankruptcy and said, "Alfred, you're the only one who loves Stickley enough to keep its quality, would you buy it?" Mr. Audi, who had grown up sleeping in a Stickley bed, and whose college fraternity at Colgate had Stickley throughout, recognized that despite the company's declining fortunes, it still enjoyed a reputation for quality craftsmanship. He believed that its style reflected an underlying human desire for a return to simplicity for the home, where furniture was functional and offered subtle elegance.
For 11 years, Mr. Audi and his beloved wife and business partner, Aminy, worked on the infrastructure of Stickley, operating out of the small original Stickley factory on Orchard Street in Fayetteville, New York, now home of the Stickley Museum. In 1985, Mr. Audi built a new state of the art manufacturing facility in Manlius, New York, which after several expansions now exceeds 450,000 square feet.
Mr. Audi's championing of Mission Oak in 1989 has sparked a massive resurgence in its popularity. Stickley's Mission Oak is now not only their most heavily sought-after style, but one that is emulated, today, in furniture stores nationwide. Until the very end, Mr. Audi credited the venerable international reputation enjoyed by L. & J.G. Stickley to the caliber of craftsmanship and work ethic of his employees. He had a talent for identifying and seeking out the highest caliber of colleagues and staff that exist in the industry.
Mr. Audi was an avid sportsman, winning numerous awards in golf, squash, racquetball and bowling. In 2004, he won the New York State Super Senior Golf Championship, the Onondaga Golf and Country Club Men's Club Championship, the Onondaga Senior Club Championship and the Syracuse Senior District Match Play Championship. He was also the Squash Chairman of the Downtown Athletic Club and a member of the Metropolitan Squash Racquets Association. He was Squash Club Champion at the Heights Casino for three years.
His many awards were complimented in 2006 when he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from his alma mater, Colgate University. He was also nominated that same year for the manufacturers "Furniture Hall of Fame."
Together with his wife Aminy, Mr. Audi aptly received the prestigious Laurel Award from the International Furnishings and Design Association in 2004, for: "... furthering the Arts and Crafts movement in America." In 1997 they were recipients of the Ernst & Young Upstate New York Entrepreneurs of the Year Award and the 1995 recipients of the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award. In addition, Alfred was also named the 2004 recipient of the Community Team Spirit Award at the Salvation Army's Annual Civic Luncheon.
Alfred Audi is survived by his wife, Aminy; son, Edward of Manlius; and daughters, Carolyn Audi Fischi and son-in-law Dr. Michael Fischi and Andrea of Fayetteville; three grandchildren; Anna Grace, Sophia Elizabeth and Paul Alfred Fischi; a sister, Elaine Audi Macken of New York City; a brother, Dr. Robert Audi and his wife Mary Louise of Indiana; and a nephew and four nieces. He is also survived by the Inati family, the Audi family and the nearly 1600 Stickley employees.