It was just a simple year ago when the Dior exhibition was dazzling North Texans at the Dallas Museum of Art. Among the crowd was a stately white-haired widower with azure blue eyes in suit and tie. He was sharp as a finely honed knife despite being just past the 90-year mark. He chatted seamlessly with DMA Eugene McDermott Director Agustín Arteaga. A few days earlier he had attended the black-tie Sweetheart Ball with Charron Denker to help raise funding for UT Southwestern’s cardiology research. In October he doffed the tie look and joined the crowd at Park and Palate’s Dinner in the Park to support Klyde Warren Park.
Needless to say, Roger Horchow seemed comfortable in any setting. After all, the man who had been born on July 3, 1928, in Cincinnati had lived through everything from toddler days in the Great Depression, watching George Gershwin play on the Horchow family piano, attending Yale and serving in the Korean War. He was smart, creative and self-made. He knew the ins and outs of business and philanthropy and what he didn’t know, he was a quick study to learn.
It was in the late 1950s that he and his bride/Bloomingdale’s fashion staffer Carolyn Pfeifer Horchow (they were engaged after just seven dates) found their way to Dallas and Neiman Marcus, where he impressed merchant prince Stanley Marcus. One of his first assignments was buying merchandise for the 1958 English Fortnight. Upon reviewing Roger’s presentation of goods, Stanley told him, “Well, you’re learning.” But Mr. Stanley would also discover that Roger had a vision for catalogue merchandising as he ran the store’s mail-order department. According to a D Magazine article, columnist Eugenia Sheppard wrote, “Roger Horchow changed the mail-order catalogue from something deadly dull into a publication that women can hardly wait to open.”
Roger would leave Neiman’s to co-found The Horchow Collection with Carolyn. Years later it would be purchased by Neiman’s and provide Roger with millions of dollars to become a modern-day Texas renaissance man.
He had not only been an innovator in luxury retailing (The Horchow Collection), an author (“The Art Of Friendship, 70 Simple Rules of Making Meaningful Connections,” “Living In Style By Horchow” and “Elephants In Your Mailbox: How I Learned The Secrets Of Mail-Order Marketing Despite Having Made 25 Horrendous Mistakes”) and being a Tony-winning Broadway angel (Crazy For You; Kiss Me, Kate; Curtains; Gypsy, and Annie), he had carried on the philanthropic endeavors that he and Carolyn had undertaken.
For instance, his relationship with the DMA spanned more than four decades with his not only holding leadership positions, but also providing substantial funding that included the building of the Museum’s Horchow Auditorium in 1993. Just this past June, Roger had signed up for a three-year term on the board of trustees.
According to Agustín, “While his support for our building, special exhibitions, the collections, and public programming were immense, he never lost his passion for retail, and he constantly found ways to use it in service to the Museum. Whenever Roger said he was coming by, I knew the first place I would find him was in the DMA Store, fiddling with everything from the window dressing to the white lights, and making sure visitors could find something to buy. His leadership and support of the DMA has played an important role in making our Museum the dynamic place it is today. I am thankful I had the opportunity to know Roger and his family, including his daughters Sally [Horchow], Regen [Horchow Fearon] and Lizzie [Routman]. We will miss his wink, his sly humor, his critical thinking, and his smile. We will mourn him.”
But despite his death Saturday, his and Carolyn’s legacy will continue on thanks to their daughters and five granddaughters.
And while no memorial service is planned, why not settle back and enjoy a little Gershwin in Roger’s memory?