Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gunther Kilsheimer, Pioneer in Graphic Arts Passes Away at Age 86

Press Release

Washington, D.C.— Gunther Kilsheimer, founder of Art Display Company and a pioneer in signs and graphic arts in Washington D.C., passed away August 8, 2009 in his home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He was 86. Mr. Kilsheimer is survived by his wife, Martyna, his son, Douglas, his daughter-in-law, Monica Kilsheimer, and his grandchildren, Brandon and Casey of Annapolis, MD.

One of Gunther’s most recognizable accomplishments was his integral role in the design of the American iconic Toys ‘R’ Us logo and sign. Gunther designed a sign for one of the founders of the company, Mr. Bill Bederman when the company was still called “Children’s Supermart Toys.” They had worked closely together developing the Geoffrey the Giraffe logo. Along with a new image, Mr. Bederman wanted a more upscale sign, one with individual, channel letters. When Gunther showed Mr. Bederman the cost to have that many letters in the title Mr. Bederman asked for a name change. The result was “Toys ‘R’ US.” Only the “R” had to be backwards as if a child had written it.

Gunther was born in Pforzheim, Germany and escaped the Nazi Holocaust thanks to the efforts of The Jewish Agency which arranged his passage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before the start of World War II. Gunther sailed to the United States in 1947, from Brazil, with his first wife, Sonia, and their baby girl, Daisy. His dream was to make signs like the ones he saw in photos of Time Square. He and his family found a home in Washington, D.C. where he opened his first office in his father’s attic. One of his early jobs was lining President Harry Truman’s inauguration parade route with the seals of the countries that formed the United Nations in 1948.

Gunther’s son, Doug Kilsheimer, became President of Art Display Company after his father retired in 1994. Today, the company has grown to a 50,000 square foot facility with over 100 employees. A living legacy to a man who came to America with a dream and made it a reality.


Art Display Company (ADC) is the Mid-Atlantic region’s leading manufacturer, designer and installer of commercial signage and environmental graphics. Founded by Gunther Kilsheimer in 1947, Art Display Company is now operated by his son, Douglas Kilsheimer. ADC’s award winning staff provides counsel on every phase of your project from design to permitting, through construction to installation. Architects, developers, Fortune 500 companies and individual entrepreneurs turn to Art Display Company to transform their vision into a tangible reality. The 50,000 square foot facility is home to over 100 skilled craftspeople committed to the production of interior and exterior signage in neon, metal fabrication, plastic, screen process printing, carpentry, digital graphics with large format applications and a full canopy and awning facility. For more information, please visit