Critt Rawlings

Obituary of Critt Rawlings

With immeasurable sadness but immeasurable joy for a life well-lived, we announce that Louis Crittenden Rawlings III, 82, known to his countless friends, colleagues, customers, and family as Critt, passed on peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Critt’s life was what most would call the ultimate 20th century American success story: Kentucky farm boy to CEO, small town kid with an education from, as he liked to say, the “University of Hard Knocks,” to great corporate and entrepreneurial success, a legend and leader in his industry. Born on a farm in Lebanon Kentucky in September, 1939 to Louis Crittenden and Genevieve Abell Rawlings, he and his five brothers and sisters helped his family farm tobacco, milk cows, and break and train horses. He learned to hunt quail and to fish, to read natures signs and respect the great outdoors from his father, a renowned outdoorsman who taught him to love and find peace in nature. His lifelong love of horses and horsemanship was also nurtured on the farm, and he went on in later life to raise and breed American Paint horses on his own farms in Warrenton Virginia and Harrodsburg KY. His love for the natural world and the grandness of nature would lead him to travel to the world’s top fly-fishing destinations, to return again and again to the big sky country of Montana and Wyoming to fly-fish with family and friends, and to share spectacular trips to his vacation home in the wilds of Chile with family, friends, and colleagues. A creative, a dreamer, a romantic and a do-er, Critt made the most of every moment on this earth. Some of his childrens’ fondest memories are of their dad, all 6’4” and always dressed to the nines, dancing and singing around the house, spreading joy and constantly telling jokes and stories of his childhood on the farm. He loved to remind his daughters that “You have to have enthusiasm in life!” He constantly entertained family and friends alike with his colorful Kentucky expressions, his never-waning Southern drawl, his beautiful singing voice, and his love of a good joke and a great story. His booming laugh and rich resonant voice were a comfort and a joy to his girls growing up on beautiful farms in Virginia, and antique homes in Connecticut. An impeccably dressed, tall and handsome man, he could often be heard joking “I cant wait for tomorrow cause I get better looking every day!” He often told a joke his father had passed on to him about a man who would be seen in the local village talking to himself, and one day when asked why he did this, the man answered, “Well, I like to talk to to a smart man, and I like to hear a smart man talk.” A man of many talents and interests, he had deep passion for the beautiful, the special and the exquisite; things and people of beauty, quality and character. He spoke to his children often of the importance of honesty, integrity, manners, and humor in business and in life. Critt was a man who was comfortable in his own skin, confident, radiant, charismatic, and one of the rare people who can relate to everyone; he was as at home mucking out a stall or riding a vintage tractor or pick-up truck as he was socializing with CEOs, designers, celebrated playwrights, world-famous athletes, and Presidents of the United States. He had that rare X-factor that makes all kinds of people feel comfortable and special in his presence. He had exquisite handwriting and was the king of making you feel special with a hand-written acknowledgment. His great personal style was legendary. He and his wife Judy had a shared passion for hospitality, and endlessly and stylishly entertained friends at their beautiful homes in Virginia, Connecticut, New York City, and Chile. He spent his free time traveling with family, gardening, raising many animals and pets his family adored over many years including his beloved Paint horses Spanish, Susannah, Monty, and Charlotte, his faithful Great Pyrenees dog Lucy, countless chickens, ducks, cows, dogs, cats and the Shetland sheep he raised for wool for his clothing line. The couple also collected Western and Native American art, antiques and jewelry, as well as English country antiques. He passed on his effortless, boundless energy and joy for life to his family, but one of Critt’s most well-known traits was his enthusiasm and passion for his work. His love of mens fashion began at a young age, while watching his father meticulously dress each morning. In high school, he used to hitchhike into Louisville in order to have exposure to the fashionable stores in the “big city.” After graduating from St Augustine High in Lebanon (where Critt was a basketball star, once scoring 22 points in the first quarter alone, well before the onset of the 3 pointer!) he turned down a college basketball scholarship, much to his mothers chagrin, in order to work as a “packer”— literally packing the samples for his first mentor in the clothing business, Mr. Bowman Brewer, a great salesman who taught Critt about quality, integrity, and how to be a truly great salesman, for the H. A. Seinsheimer Co of Ohio. Critt entered the United States Marine Corps and from there took away memories and discipline that would serve him well in his career and make him a proud Marine for life. He proudly participated in Marine Corp events and gatherings for the rest of his life—once a Marine, always a Marine. Semper Fi. A few years later, he met and married the love of his life, the beautiful Judy Lynn Kidd, in Chicago. They had three girls named Allyson, Anne, and Caroline. Critt took threads of what he’d learned on the farm, on the road selling with Mr. Brewer, and in the Marines, and wove it all together to create a career of international acclaim that few Kentucky farm kids could ever imagine: from Chicago to Atlanta to New York City, Critt’s raw talent, charisma, good nature, tireless work ethic, and pure love of fine clothing and design led him to a long distinguished career first in merchandising at Norman Hilton, where he learned volumes under the impeccable taste and leadership skills of Norman, and his great friend and mentor Peter Strom. He quickly went on to executive positions at H. Freeman, Country Britches, Cricketeer, as President of Polo Ralph Lauren, and later, full circle, as President and CEO of Oxxford Clothes, the company that his mentor Mr. Brewer had so admired for being “the best.” After Oxxford, Critt felt he’d reached the pinnacle of his career and “retired” to his horse farm in Kentucky. But like many gifted creatives, he could not rest long as he had new ideas and a true love of his work. He had noted at Oxxford how the best suits in the world are made and felt with his knowledge and contacts he could make a garment to fill a gap in the menswear market: a sportcoat with the features of a far more expensive suit, for a much more attractive price. The result was the Crittenden Soft Coat, a soft-shouldered, lightly constructed coat that was a modern revolution for menswear, and was immediately copied industry-wide and became the standard for a modern jacket. Critt was best known industry wide tor this innovation, for his leadership and friendship to all, and for his encyclopedic knowledge of fabric, his creativity and flawless taste. In September 2010, Critt fulfilled his lifelong dream of designing his own menswear line and opening his own namesake stores, Crittenden Rawlings Gentlemens Clothing. He enjoyed traveling around the world to find the perfect fabrics, and spent notable amounts of time in Japan, China, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Italy, France, and the UK, creating life long friendships with folks at fabric mills and manufacturers worldwide. His relationships with the great people he met in his travels were very valuable to him. Another part of his impact on his industry was his founding of the Old Friends Society. In the early 2000s he invited all the stalwart stars of the menswear industry to join an exclusive club celebrating their accomplishments and their bonds of friendship. The club included a semi annual supper at the storied 21 Club in NYC, establishing an elegant and meaningful tradition that will live on as part of his legacy. Critt has been described by friends and colleagues as the “quintessential gentleman, a genuine soul with no pretense, the ultimate salesman, a person who would light up any room with his smile, laughter and incredible storytelling.” “Critt was lively, quick-witted, tasteful, passionate and generous. He encompassed the heart and soul of the mens clothing industry, and truly is an icon in his field.” Critt said of himself in one of the many interviews and articles written about his career over the years: “My success can be largely attributed to a great Kentucky work ethic, a passion for what I do, and a whole lot of luck.” The only thing he loved more deeply than his work was his family, especially his grandchildren who brought him so much joy and to whom he was able to pass on his natural charisma, charm, and love of life, and his countless life-long friendships from all walks of life and from all over the world. Critt was a true bon-vivant, a spirited, energetic, driven highachiever with a talent for goal-setting, business acumen, and boundless natural artistic gifts. He, much like one of his childhood heroes, Will Rogers, “never met a man he didn’t like.” He was that rare person who had endless energy right up until the end, and made friends wherever he went, but his heart led him back to his birthplace, the green rolling fields of Kentucky, where he found joy, camaraderie, peace, inspiration and family. He often said that he had “travelled all over the world and never seen a place any prettier than the bluegrass of Kentucky.” Critt will always be adored, cherished and remembered as the kind, loving, hilarious, fun, joyful, complicated, gifted, hugely-successful, handsome, warm, gentlemanly and oh so very beloved father, husband, son, brother, grandfather, friend, community and industry leader and mentor that he was. An indomitable spirit so full of life, power, radiant love and energy like Critt’s will never truly be gone and will always live on in the hearts of the many, many people he influenced. Critt is now having a well-deserved glass of wine somewhere up there with great friends who went on before him, his parents, Louis Crittenden Rawlings II and Genevieve Abell Rawlings, and his beloved sister Ethel Tatum. His wife Judy, his daughters, Allyson Rawlings of Los Angeles, CA, Anne (Michael) Beaumont of Franklin, TN, and Caroline (Jason) Becker of Easton, CT, his siblings Joyce Reddick, Bill Rawlings, Mary Sue Rahubka, and Jane Greenwell, his many nieces and nephews, and his beloved grandchildren, Lillian and Victoria Becker, Waylon Rawlings, and Davis Beaumont all keep him close in our hearts, and will keep his life and legacy alive forever in the honest and positive way we live, in Critt’s honor. An honor to know him, an honor to share him with the world, an honor to love him, and a blessing to be loved by him. Crittenden Rawlings, a gentleman for all time. A celebration of Critt’s well-lived, wonderful life will be held this summer; details to follow. His friends at Clark Legacy Center in Frankfort are in charge of his arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at In lieu of flowers, Critt wished for donations to be made to two of his favorite causes, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown KY at, or Semper Fi/America’s Fund, a non-profit dedicated to helping wounded Marine Corps vets at

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