Randy Alton Auman of Milford, Pa., died March 21, 2021, after a courageous two-year battle with cancer. He was 68.
Randy was born on Nov. 19, 1952, in Harrison, Arkansas, son of the late Alton “Lefty” Brooks Auman and the late Margaret Inez Adams Auman-Dawson.
He attended Harrison High School, where he was the drum major in the marching band. He spent his junior year in high school in Washington, D.C., after being nominated to serve as a Congressional Page by U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt of Arkansas, an experience that fueled his ambition to seek a life in a sophisticated urban environment.
In high school Randy also developed a strong interest in the sciences, as well as the arts. He graduated in 1971 as salutatorian with honors in the sciences. He attended Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and graduated in 1975 as a biology major. He was accepted to Cornell Medical School, but a graduation trip to Europe made him decide that his interests lay in art more than medicine.
He moved to Dallas and began work as a medical illustrator, a field which combined his two interests, but soon afterwards began work at Neiman Marcus, where he became a protégé of Stanley Marcus, who trained him in visual merchandising, assigned him to design a layette which was presented to the newborn Prince William of Wales in 1982, and that same year insisted that Randy enroll at Parsons School of Design in New York city. It was while at Parsons that Randy met Andy Warhol, who inspired many of his own paintings. After obtaining his M. F. A. from Parsons in 1985, Randy began the career that took him to the heights of the design world. He first became Director of Visual Merchandising for Sanger-Harris (later Foley’s) Department stores in Houston, where in 1987 he met his partner and husband of 31 years, Jim Vandevender.
Neiman Marcus then asked him to return to Dallas to serve as director of creative services nationwide, a post he held until he went to Guerlain as Vice-President of Creative Services for North America. Randy’s work at Neiman Marcus included such varied assignments as meeting with the Queen of Thailand to create a Thai-themed “Fortnight” in Dallas. In 1998 he left Guerlain in to accept a position as Vice-President of Creative Services at Waterford-Wedgwood, where, among other things, he designed the facets for the Millenium Ball that drops in Times Square every New Year’s Eve. He also designed crystal and china for Waterford and Wedgwood and worked closely with Sarah, Duchess of York, then the spokesperson for Wedgwood. While at Waterford-Wedgwood, Randy and Jim bought a weekend house in the Milford area, and in 2003 bought a larger Milford house and made it their principal residence. There Randy’s design talents were often used to spectacular effect in entertaining friends and family.
Before starting his own company in 2003, Randy briefly served as Vice-President of Merchandising for Cosmopolitan Corporation, where he was responsible for creative direction for Gucci, Mont Blanc, Dunhill, Anna Sui, and Ellen Tracy. Randy’s firm, AumanDesign, which was active until his death, counted among its best clients the chefs Paula Deen and Rachael Ray, AmorePacific, Royal Doulton, Oneida, and the Breakers Hotel, among many others.
Randy gave his tremendous design gifts generously to friends, family, and charities he supported. Those fortunate enough to attend a wedding, birthday, or charity ball for which he had planned (and often executed) the décor, never forgot the event.
Randy’s intellect remained keen to the end of his life. He volunteered to test experimental treatment protocols, and far outlived his doctors’ most optimistic projections. As a lifelong Democrat, perhaps the greatest satisfaction he had as a result of his longer-than-expected survival was that he voted in the 2020 election and watched the January 2021 Inauguration.
Randy is survived by his husband, Jim Vandevender of New Orleans, Louisiana; his sisters, Barbara Gaye Maybee (Charlie Edward Maybee) of Alpena, Arkansas, and Brenda Kaye Auman of Harrison, Arkansas; nephew, Kavan Maybee (Nicky Hill); and great-nephews, Heston Joe Maybee and Hadley Brooks Maybee.
Interment in the family plot in Alpena, Arkansas, will be private. A celebration of Randy’s life is planned for a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Greater Pike Community Foundation Randy Auman Memorial Fund, at PO Box 992, Milford PA 18337, which will underwrite scholarships for students in the arts.