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Blass, Bill (22 June 1922–12 June 2002), fashion designer, branding innovator, and philanthropist, was born William Ralph Blass in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His father, Ralph Aldrich Blass, was a traveling hardware salesman, and his mother, Ethyl Keyser, was a dressmaker who worked from their home. Although his sister, Virginia (Gina), was just two years older than he, they were never close. When Blass was barely five years old, his father committed suicide at home, which Blass later assumed to be from manic-depression, although his mother never discussed the family trauma with her children. His mother did not remarry, and the family struggled during the Depression years on her income from a small annuity, rent from a lakeside cabin, and dressmaking....

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Stetson, John Batterson (05 May 1830–18 February 1906), hat manufacturer and philanthropist, was born in Orange, New Jersey, the son of Stephen Stetson, a hatter, and Susan Batterson. Like several of his brothers, Stetson learned the hat trade at an early age as an apprentice in his father’s shop. The long hours necessary to acquire and perfect the craft kept Stetson from receiving much formal education, but his mother taught him to read and write using the Bible and newspapers....