MARTINSVILLE, Va., July 13, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "People loved working for and with him. He had a way of making his employees happy to get up in the morning and come to work, and of making his customers feel that when they walked into his showroom, they were at home."

"He was a visionary whose business acumen was balanced by his great sense of ethics and integrity."

"He was a man with no ego, and with no enemies."

"He built enduring greatness with his blend of personal humility and professional will."

J. Clyde Hooker Jr., furniture industry statesman, community benefactor, decorated World War II veteran and the visionary leader of Hooker Furniture from 1960 until 2000, died July 12 at the age of 89.

"With Clyde gone, an era has passed, and a void is left in the industry that will never, ever be filled," said Melvin Wolff, chairman of Star Furniture in Houston, Texas. Wolff was one of many industry and community friends and admirers who reflected on the incomparable life of Hooker.

One of the only remaining leaders from America's golden industrial age and patriarch of one of the "first families" of the Virginia furniture industry, Hooker's personal involvement with the company that bore his name began at the age of four, when he blew the steam whistle to signal the first work day in January 1925.

Born December 20, 1920, he was the son of Hooker Furniture founder J. Clyde Hooker Sr. and of Mabel Bassett Hooker, the daughter of Charles Bassett, one of the founders of Bassett Furniture. Until 1951, the name of the company was Hooker-Bassett Company.

After he graduated as valedictorian of his class at Virginia Military Institute in 1942, he served with the renowned Third Army in the European Theater of World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star, three campaign stars and was discharged with the rank of Captain in 1946. A few months later, he went to work at Hooker Furniture, starting in the factory to learn the manufacturing process before working in the Martinsville headquarters as assistant sales manager. In 1956, he was named sales manager.