Sam Maloof, America’s woodworking icon, dies

Sam Maloof, an American icon, famous designer and builder of simple, beautiful, comfortable functional furniture passed away May 21 at his Alta Loma, Calif., home following a brief illness. He was 93.
Maloof’s furniture-making career spanned six decades, beginning with building pieces in a garage for his own home, and progressing to owning a shop that produced pieces including the world-famous Maloof rocking chair.

Maloof was considered among the original group of American contemporary craftsmen that included George Nakashima, Warren Esherick, Charles Eames, Walker Weed, Art Carpenter and Bob Stocksdale. Former President Jimmy Carter referred to Maloof as his “woodworking hero.”

“His work was so well-made and so well thought out,” says Garry Knox Bennett, a furniture maker from Oakland, Calif., and a friend of Maloof’s. “Sammy had a particular talent that a lot of people emulate, and I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to reproduce it. He did honest work; that’s the best thing I can say about the man.”

Maloof’s talent was matched perhaps only by his humility. He refused to sell his designs for production purposes and his shop was always open to visitors. Until his death, Maloof continued to be generous with his time by teaching and conducting workshops for woodworkers of all talent levels.

Maloof leaves behind his wife, Beverly Wingate Maloof, and son, Slimen. He was predeceased by his first wife of 50 years, Alfreda, in 1998. A “Celebration of Life” for Sam Maloof took place June 9 at Kresge Chapel in Claremont, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Maloof Foundation, P.O. Box 8397, Alta Loma, CA 91701.