Douglas Thomson, Former Toy Manufacturers of America President & Founder of FIT’s Toy Design Department, has Died at Age 97
November 3, 2021 | The Toy Association and its members mourn the passing of Douglas Thomson, former president of Toy Manufacturers of America (TMA) (now The Toy Association). He died suddenly at his Savannah, GA home on October 22 at the age of 97.
Born in the Bronx, NY, he was the second son of Alexander Thomson and Katherine Constantine Thomson. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, fought in the Pacific Theater, and saw significant combat including the Battle of Peleliu. He achieved the rank of Master Sergeant. After the war, he attended Dartmouth College followed by The Tuck School of Business, earning a BA in 1949 and an MBA in 1950.
Thomson joined the Toy Manufacturers of America (TMA) in 1978 as president, where he led the organization in consumer safety and policy, public relations, and philanthropy. He won several awards in this role and was particularly proud of helping found the Toy Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). It was during a meeting with current FIT Toy Design Department chairperson Judy Ellis that he suggested FIT consider designing a program that would educate the next generation of toy designers.
“There were several very clear requirements Doug wanted to ensure future designers had a total understanding of before entering the toy business, from child development to the critical safety regulations pertaining to toys,” said Ellis. “Doug knew how important it was to design really meaningful products for children and wanted to assist with any information regarding child development and safety that TMA could provide. He was a wonderfully open, forward-thinking gentleman – ahead of his time.”
Prior to joining TMA, Thomson worked for 27 years at Uniroyal, where he worked his way up to president of the consumer division. While at Uniroyal, he also served as an economic consultant to the office of management and budget for the Carter Administration. His greatest accomplishment at Uniroyal, however, was meeting his wife of 70 years, Betty Jane (BJ) Culver Thomson of Naugatuck, CT.
A keen golfer, Thomson shot his age regularly and played golf and tennis into his 90s.
“He embodied fairness, decency, and integrity on the course, on the court, and in his life,” said his daughter Brooke Wilford. “Doing the right thing while maintaining a sense of humor was central to who he was.”
He leaves behind his wife BJ; his daughter Brooke (Andrew), and grandchildren MacKay and Miles Wilford of Savannah, GA; and his son Alex (Kathleen) and grandchildren Ian, Sloane (Lauren) and Brooks Thomson all in the Boston area. He also leaves his extended family including his beloved nieces and nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and his great grandnephews.
In lieu of flowers, Thomson’s family is encouraging donations to be made to the Dartmouth College Fund in his name.