John P. Thomy, president of the National Pigment & Chemical Company and prominently known in the musical as well as the business circles of St. Louis, was born in Riga, Livonia, June 10, 1880. His father, Bernard Thorny, was also a native of Livonia and became a prominent and wealthy grain dealer of Riga, which then belonged to Russia. He had large contracts for the export of grain, and when the government prohibited the exportation of grain during the year 1894, he came to the United States in order to make new contracts on this side of the Atlantic. Not long afterward, however, he became ill and passed away. He had established his home in St. Louis and had become a member of the St. Louis Merchants Exchange. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Thomy became the parents of eight children, four of whom died in infancy, while two sons and two daughters are living.
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John P. Thomy, the youngest of the family, was educated in the gymnasium of his native city and his training was equivalent to a college education. The parents afforded their children every advantage that money and social position could give them. Such advancement had John P. Thomy made that at the age of fifteen years he was able to secure permission to leave the country for America and in August, 1895, he followed his father to the United States, making his way direct to St. Louis. Here he remained in the employ of Charles F. Orthwein until 1896 and afterward became connected with the Way Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which he represented on the road for two years, while in 1899 he became general sales manager. In 1900 he was admitted to a partnership in the business conducted under the name of the Way & Lowe Knitting Mills at Bristol, Pennsylvania, and was thus identified with the textile industry until 1905. In that year he returned to St. Louis and became associated with the Hammar Brothers White Lead Company, thus remaining until 1919 as vice president and general manager. In 1913, however, he organized the Thomy Specialty Company, which business he sold in 1914 to the Campbell Glass & Paint Company, of which he became vice president and general manager. In 1919 he disposed of his interests in the Campbell Glass & Paint Company to the Glidden Company of Cleveland, of which he became vice president in charge of their auxiliary plants. On the 1st of January, 1921, the National Pigment & Chemical Company was formed with Mr. Thomy as the president. It is an amalgamation of the Nulsen Corporation, the business of J. C. Finck and the Dehore Baryta Company. Mr. Thomy is an alert and progressive business man, constantly watchful for opportunities pointing to success, and his progressiveness and enterprise have carried him steadily forward.
In Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Thomy was married to Ethel Vera Lawrence, daughter of Carroll and Emma (Collier) Lawrence and granddaughter of Major Collier, who was an officer in an Ohio regiment during the Civil war. To Mr. and Mrs. Thomy have been born three children: Lawrence, who is attending the School of Mines at Rolla, Missouri, J. I’., a student in the Jackson Academy; and Harriet Elizabeth, who is attending Mary’s Institute.
Mr. Thomy finds his chief recreation; in music, for which he has a natural taste, having always been a great lover of the art, and he served for several years on the executive board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, cooperating in its well devised plans for the city’s improvement and upbuilding, and is likewise well known in the club circles of the city through his membership in the Noonday Club, St. Louis Club, Missouri Athletic Association, Sunset Hill Country Club, Algonquin Golf Club, Triple A Club and the Century Boat Club. He is also a member of the Chicago Athletic Association. During the World war he spent his entire time in connection with activities brought about through war conditions and he trade liberal subscriptions to all war activities. His political endorsement is given to the republican party and his religious faith is that of the Christian Science church. Arriving in the new world when a youth of fifteen years, he soon proved his ability and has since become successful, principally because of his straightforward way of doing business, which has won him not only the confidence but high regard ‘and esteem of his fellowmen. One of his associates said: “He would rather go out of his way to help others than try to profit. himself.”