CHICAGO, Ill. -- Julie Christianne Thoma Wright, interior designer, founder and co-owner of Wright, and mother of three, died at age 49 on Monday, June 11, 2007, in Chicago from stage IV colorectal cancer.
Julie was born Feb. 25, 1958 in Le Mars, the daughter of Donald and Gladys (Molzen) Thoma. She attended the Le Mars Community Schools, and graduated with the class of 1976. After attending Iowa State University and graduating with a bachelor of arts in interior design in 1981, Julie moved to Chicago and began working as a designer for Arlene Semel & Associates.
In 1985 she started her own design firm, Julie Thoma, Inc., and was awarded an AIA award in 1989 for her project in Regent's Park. In 1989 Julie joined Interior Space Design, later to become Interior Space International, where she rose to vice president as she led the firm's design efforts in Mexico City. In 1994 she was featured on the cover of Interiors Magazine.
Julie returned to residential design in 1995 with the re-establishment of her own firm, Thoma Wright Ltd. and in 2000 she co-founded Wright with her husband Richard Wright. Since being diagnosed three years ago, Julie has been selected as one of the "Tastemakers of 2006" by House & Garden and named a design maverick in the article "The Originals" in the New York Times Style Magazine.
Under Julie's creative direction, Wright catapulted from a small start-up company to an international leader in modern design within a few short years, as was noted by House & Garden "if modernist design today is a high-end auction category, much credit goes to them." Her vision for Wright catalogs revolutionized the auction
industry standard, the "quirky, comprehensive catalogs" have received accolades in publications from Wallpaper* to Architectural Digest Germany.
Survivors include husband, Richard Wright, son Nicholas Pagoria, and sons Emerson and Adler Wright, all of Chicago, Ill.; her mother, Gladys Thoma of Le Mars; brother Roger Thoma of Ames, and six sisters: Gloria Ohlendorf and friend Jose Alvarez of Cambria, Calif., Barbara (Brian) Espeland of Ames, Janet (Joe) Higgins of Wayne, N.J., Nancy (Phil) Groetken of Kansas City, Mo., Glenda (Mark) Lockard of Pittsford, N.Y., and Kelli Thoma of Chicago, Ill.;and also many nieces, nephews and cousins. She is also survived by mother-in-law Mary Ellen Wright of Topsham, Maine and sister-in-law Kathy (Dan) Frey of Chicago, Ill.
She is preceded in death by father Donald Thoma; grandparents TJ and Mary Thoma; and Alfred and Martha Molzen.
Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14 at St. James Cathedral located at 65 East Huron Street in Chicago, followed by a 4 p.m. reception at The Art's Club of Chicago located at 201 East Ontario Street. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to TGen Clinical Research Services or St. James Cathedral at the addresses below.
TGen Clinical Research Services
C/O Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation
10001 North 92nd Street, Suite 121
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
St. James Cathedral
65 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611