Thomas R. Durning, of St. Louis, president of the Monroe Clothes Shop and also of the Burton Clothes Shop, ranks with the leading merchants of the state by reason of the enterprise and progressiveness which he displays in the management of the interests under his control. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 17, 1882, and is a son of Joseph S. Durning, deceased, who was a native of London, England. On crossing the Atlantic to the United States he took up his residence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was a whitesmith by occupation. He was the possessor of marked inventive genius and was the inventor of the first cotton-bale tie used in the south, also of the post-hole auger and the first hayfork ever used. During the Civil war he warmly espoused the Union cause and for four and a half years served as color bearer of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. He wedded Amanda Cook, who for ten years was a schoolmate of H. J. Heinz, the pickle manufacturer. Mr. and Mrs. Durning were married in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and became the parents of two sons and three daughters, of whom Thomas R. is the youngest. He is a brother of Robert E. Durning. The sisters of the family are: Margaret, who is the wife of Thomas Macombs, with the American Bridge Company at Ambridge, Pennsylvania; Estelle, the wife of E. F. Wible, an electrical engineer with the American Car & Foundry Company at Pittsburgh; and Minnie, the wife of N. K. Huggins, who is a captain of the Merchants & Miners Transportation Company.
Thomas R. burning acquired a grammar school education in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pursuing his studies to the age of fifteen years, when in 1897 he started out to provide for his own support, making his initial step in the business world as wrapper and inspector for the Joseph Horn Company of Pittsburgh. In that employ he rose to the position of assistant buyer, early displaying the possession of those qualities which for want of a better term have been called commercial sense.
When but twenty-three years of age he made his way to St. Louis, becoming buyer of the young men’s clothing department with the firm of Werner & Werner. He occupied that position of responsibility until he reached the age of twenty-eight years and then became buyer for the boys clothing department of the Famous-Barr Company of St. Louis, thus continuing to the age of thirty-one. Feeling that his experience and his capital now justified him in engaging in business on his own account, he established a clothing store, which he has since conducted under the name of the Monroe Clothes Shop. Of this he is the president and the business has continued most successfully to the present time. His capable management, his enterprise and his progressiveness have resulted in the attainment of very substantial success. He established one of the first upstairs clothes shops in St. Louis and is one of the leading business men in this style of selling. By opening a store above the ground floor he greatly lessened the overhead expenses in the conduct of the business, enabling him to sell at a lower figure, and his trade is now very gratifying. He has further extended the scope of his activities by becoming the president of the Burton Clothing Company and both houses are being successfully conducted.
On the 6th of April, 1904, Mr. Durning was united in marriage to Miss Etta Loveless, the wedding being celebrated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her parents were George and Sarah (Toynbee) Loveless. One child was born of this marriage, Thomas R., now deceased. During the World war Mr. Durning received a cup for securing the largest amount in subscriptions in the first drive for the Armenian and Serbian relief. He was an active promoter of all the Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives both through financial support and personal aid in advancing the sales. He belongs to West Gate Lodge, No. 445, A. F. & A. M., having been raised in 1916. He is also a member of Alhambra Grotto, belongs to the Forest Park Golf Club and is a member of the board of governors of the Forest Park Club. In politics he may be called an independent republican. His religious faith is that of the Methodist church and his interest always centers in those lines through which flows the greatest and most permanent good to the greatest number. Every act of his life measures up to the high standards which he has set for himself, his entire career being actuated by a spirit of enterprise, laudable ambition and the highest sense of personal integrity and honor.