Industry veteran Don Essenberg dies at age 68

Executive described as a highly devout Christian who valued his relationships with those he worked with for many years

SUMMERFIELD, N.C. — Donald Alan Essenberg, an industry veteran who held executive positions at Broyhill, Magnussen and Legacy Classic, passed away at his home here on Sept. 8. He was 68.

Essenberg graduated with honors from Appalachian State University with a bachelor of business degree in 1977, having double majored in marketing and management. He began his career in the furniture business shortly after graduation.

He started as an industry sales representative but soon rose to leadership positions. After working as vice president of sales at Berkline for several years, he went on to work for Broyhill for 12 years, holding several roles at once, including vice president of national accounts, vice president of sales and vice president of case goods merchandising. After Broyhill, he went on to become executive vice president at Magnussen Home for about three years before becoming vice president of sales for the West Coast at Universal Furniture for nearly 15 years.

He then became president at Legacy Classic Furniture where his years of industry experience helped develop and market some of the company’s most well-designed case goods and stand-alone dining collections in memory.

“The furniture industry afforded many travels throughout the U.S. and Asia during his career,” his obituary stated, adding, “He placed great value on all the relationships he made over the years. Don loved his work, the people he worked with, his travels and the furniture industry.”

He was also described as a devoted husband to his wife, Caryl Ann Essenberg, to whom he was married for 48 years after having been high school sweethearts.

His obituary said that his Christian faith and his love for Caryl and his family were the cornerstones of his life. As a member of Oak Ridge Methodist Church, he taught a men’s Bible study class and enjoyed worshiping there with his family.

He also was described as an active church participant, “serving in leadership and teaching roles throughout his life. He valued the time he spent studying and teaching the Bible.”

He also enjoyed reading books, scuba diving, watching movies and spending time with his grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife, his children, Jason (Sarah) Essenberg and Kristin (Josh) Bowden, his grandchildren and his brothers, Daniel Essenberg and Jon Essenberg. He was preceded in death by his father, Jack Essenberg, his mother Marilyn Essenberg and his brother Ronald Essenberg.

The family has planned a private burial. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Friday, Nov. 3, at 10:30 a.m. at Oak Ridge Methodist Church at 2424 Oak Ridge Road in Oak Ridge, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Men’s Bible Study at Oak Ridge Methodist Church, 2424 Oak Ridge Road, Oak Ridge, NC 27310-9723.

“The community is welcome in honoring the life of Donald Alan Essenberg. … His legacy will forever be remembered and cherished by those whose lives he touched,” his obituary read.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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One thought on “Industry veteran Don Essenberg dies at age 68

  1. Don was a true gentleman and an incredibly astute student of the game. He always conducted himself ethically and with great integrity. His vision, passion for the business and friendship will be greatly missed. Don, thank you for all you did for all of us!

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