Harry Gilham, Jr., founder of Georgia Lighting, died Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at age 84.
Born Jan. 25, 1930, Gilham graduated from Emory University with highest honors before serving his country as a Naval Officer on the USS Balduck in the Pacific Fleet (1953-1955). After spending four years in Dalton, GA, learning about the lighting business, Harry returned to Atlanta and founded Georgia Lighting (1960) and World Imports Company (1968). He served as President of both companies until his retirement in 2001.
A true entrepreneur, in the 1960s Gilham pioneered the now-common use of showroom vignettes to demonstrate how lighting fixtures would look mixed with furniture and antiques in a home setting. He frequently traveled to Italy, Spain, and other European countries establishing relationships with artisan craftsmen to create high-quality and beautiful lighting fixtures. Recognized nationally for his excellence in business, he received the Lighting Person of the Year Award from the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) in 1979 and was later inducted into the ALA Hall of Fame in 2000.
“Harry Gilham was a man of many talents,” says ALA President Dick Upton. “He had a vision of what a great lighting business could be and the capacity to make it happen. He was especially gifted in finding great people to join him to gain success. He cared about the lighting industry and gave ALA personal time to help us build a strong association to protect and advance the industry’s interests. We’ll miss him.”
Gilham is survived by his wife of 48 years, Caroline Mason Gilham, and by his children: Anna Gilham McGarrity and her husband Todd; and Jean Gilham Kirby and her husband Matthew. He is also survived by his grandchildren Megan and Mason McGarrity and Lucy, Gibson and Anna Kate Kirby.