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Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famer James Throneburg Passes Away at 82

Corporate, NSGA News • February 18, 2020


Marty Maciaszek, Director of Communications and Team Dealer Division
(847) 296-6742, ext. 1260

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (February 18, 2020) – James “Jim” Throneburg, a 2016 Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame inductee whose personal health issues inspired the invention of the “activity-specific” padded sock and a desire to help others live healthier lifestyles, passed away February 9 at 82.

Throneburg joined the family business of Throneburg Hosiery Mill and eventually changed the company name to THORLO, Inc., in 1980. He was driven by the guiding principles of producing the best foot protection in the world and the sustainability of THORLO beyond his own lifetime.

“Mr. Throneburg’s inspiring story reflects him helping countless others. His vision helped revolutionize the sock industry and made Thorlos a successful global company,” said NSGA President & CEO Matt Carlson. “We are saddened to learn about the passing of Mr. Throneburg and extend our sincerest condolences to his family and everyone at THORLO.”

Throneburg was born February 25, 1937 in Statesville, North Carolina and his parents Lewis and Mattie founded the Throneburg Hosiery Mill in 1953. Jim joined the business in 1960 after serving in the United States Navy Submarine Service.

Nearly 50 years ago, Throneburg went into the Duke University weight-loss program because excessive weight gain had led to life-threatening illnesses. Walking became part of Throneburg’s daily exercise and weight loss but his foot problems caused severe pain. He began working with the family company to design the first sock with padding along the ball and heel of the foot. Thorlos’ simple mission was to make a person’s feet feel better for any type and level of activity.

THORLO grew into a multi-million dollar business located in Statesville with more than 250 employees. It is one of the few remaining sock manufacturers in America that continues to make 100 percent of its products in the United States.

Throneburg’s own experience led to his creating The Institute for Preventive Foot Health, a non-profit foundation dedicated to research and education related to preventive foot health and other foot issues. He also started the Academy for Self-Discovery Leadership to prepare tomorrow’s transformational leaders by providing a safe environment for self-discovery.

“The common theme running throughout all educational programs offered is the development and practice of being self-aware,” Throneburg told NSGA in 2015. “First and foremost with themselves – including with their bodies and with food – as well as with others.”

Throneburg held more than 25 patents in the United States and internationally and was one of the most prolific inventors in the sock, insole and shoe industries.

“When I first learned of this (Hall of Fame) award, I must say that I was greatly humbled,” Throneburg said. “It overwhelmed me knowing the number of people who made it possible, yet they do not receive the credit. I believe the loyalty of our employees and our customers is ultimately responsible for our success.”

Throneburg is survived by six children, six grandchildren, two stepchildren and their four children. The family will host a celebration of Throneburg’s life at the Statesville Country Club on February 22 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Online condolences may be made at

About the National Sporting Goods Association

Since 1929, the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been the leading voice and go-to resource for sporting goods retailers and dealers. NSGA helps the industry grow the business through research, advocacy and networking. For more information about membership or NSGA’s products and services, please visit


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