WILMETTE, Ill. (Nov. 2, 2018) – Lawrence J. Thalmann, Jr., 88, son of Chalet’s founder Lawrence J. Thalmann and second-generation co-owner of Chalet, Wilmette, Ill., passed away last month, leaving a thriving business and legacy of beauty that spans generations.
Last year, Thalmann, Jr., together with Larry, his son and current Chalet president, celebrated the company’s 100th year in business, a milestone that positions Chalet as one of the longest-running and most successful family garden and landscape companies in the nation. He also saw his grandson, Lawson Thalmann, join Chalet, further positioning the company for the future and representing his family’s fourth generation of leadership.
Three generations of leadership at Chalet, pictured left to right: Diane Thalmann-Stanton, Lawrence Thalmann Jr., Larry Thalmann and Lawson Thalmann. Photo taken by Mark Campbell for Garden Center magazine in June 2017 during the company's 100th anniversary.
Thalmann, Jr. and his sister, Diane Thalmann-Stanton, received the keys to the business in the 1960s from their father, who began Chalet in 1917 as L.J. Thalmann’s Architectural Landscaping. Inheriting his’s father’s entrepreneurial skills, Thalmann, Jr. also put his personal imprint on the business, greatly expanding the landscape services division, building the Chalet Office Plaza on Skokie Boulevard and expanding the store’s retail space. An avid sailor who once made a trans-Atlantic crossing on a 40-foot sailboat, he began carrying Catalina yachts at Chalet, making it one of the largest sellers of those boats at the time.
Now in its 101st year, with 100 full-time staff members and more than 350 seasonal staff, the company is well-known for its award-winning landscape division and a lifestyle retail store based in Wilmette, featuring indoor and outdoor plants, garden essentials, nature-inspired home décor and a newly re-envisioned pet living collection. The company also owns a 180-acre farm in Salem, Wis., cultivating and providing locally-grown plants through landscape services and the retail channel.
“Larry was quite simply what I would call ‘one of the good guys from the old school’ –
honest, fair and completely without pretense,” says Tony Fulmer, chief horticulture officer who was hired by Thalmann, Jr., in 1986. “In 32 years, I never saw Larry show an ‘I’m-better-than-anyone-else’ attitude. For that, and many other reasons, I’ll always be grateful to have known him and worked for him.”
A veteran who served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, Thalmann Jr. was born on the Fourth of July in Wilmette in 1930. He is preceded in death by Margaret (nee Goedereis) and Marion (nee Kessler) Thalmann and is survived by his sister Diane (the late Roger) Stanton, children Lawrence III (Amy) and Mark (Becky) Thalmann, and grandchildren Lawson, Carleigh and Jack, and Cooper and Grace Thalmann. Memorial services were held.
Photo of Lawrence Thalmann Jr. courtesy of Chalet.