Tom Gifford, a fixture on the California party rental scene for more than 25 years, died Monday after a sudden illness.
Most recently with Los Angeles-based Classic Party Rentals as director of purchasing, Gifford, 47, also spent two years with Regal Rents, which Classic acquired in 2004. But Gifford spent bulk of his career—22 years—with Abbey Event Services, purchased by Classic in 2005. In his career with Abbey, Gifford rose from crew member to vice president. He told Special Events in 2004 that his time at Abbey gave him "joy and nourishment."
Gifford also operated his own consulting business for a time and designed a line of lounge furniture for the rental market.
He served on the Advisory Board for Special Events Magazine and was regular speaker at The Special Event.
"We are greatly saddened by this tragic loss," said Classic vice president of sales and marketing Michael Miner. "Tom was a well-known and dedicated team member who served this industry well for many years."
"Tom was one of the first people I met when I joined Special Events and one of the finest," said editor Lisa Hurley. "He had an incredibly inquiring mind; he was always trying to figure out how to do something smarter and better. And he shared that knowledge generously."
Originally from a family farm in eastern Washington, Gifford credited the work ethic he learned there as a boon later in life. "Here you learn that it does not matter why or how the situation got to be what it is, it needs to be dealt with, so you deal with it," he told Special Events in 2003.
Services are scheduled for Saturday.