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Cancer Takes Industry Great Tom Byrnes, 61

March 25, 2020

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Tom Byrnes and Niko
Tom Byrnes and Niko

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tom Byrnes, vice president of marketing at Springs Creative in Rock Hill, died on March 21 from cancer.

Services will be held for only family due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was born Feb. 2, 1959. He raised two children as a single parent. He liked music, loved to cook, and travel. He is survived by his daughter, Riley, his son, Sean, and a brother, Joe.

Byrnes was well-known in fabric circles due to his many years in the industry, including a 12-year career as executive vice president of marketing for Mastercraft Fabrics, at one time, the leading jacquard upholstery producer.

“Tom was noted for his creative and interesting presentations as well as having a great sense of humor,” remembers Richard Zack, a colleague at Mastercraft.

“He was one of the first to develop cut and sew programs in China," according to Al Bolton, a long-time friend and principal of Fabrics International. Bolton is referring to the work done for Echo Yu, owner of Nice Link Home Furnishings in China.

“Tom was one of the most gifted merchandisers in the furniture/fabric industry,” Bolton says. “He knew his product, fabric construction, and colors. He could paint a picture with a fabric presentation second to none. His knowledge of the customer made Springs a rapid success in digital printing and design. It would have taken Springs 15 years to do what Byrnes did for them in 16 months.”

In September 2019, Byrnes was found to have “an aggressive form of liver cancer, specifically bile duct cancer,” according to his daughter, Riley Peterson. “He didn’t see it as anything but being a man with just another broken leg.

"He fought and worked tirelessly to heal his body, which he would always say was just being uncooperative. When I say he fought, he fought hard, battling multiple infections alongside this horrible disease, but still never gave up.”

One week before he died, his daughter said, “he was able to walk me down the aisle and to everyone’s surprise, dance with me to our favorite song. That will be a moment I will cherish forever.”

Derick Close, owner of Springs, and a few friends are setting up scholarships. Donations can be made on the website Cholangiocarcinoma.org .




 


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