Lillian Vernon, who created a sprawling catalog business that specialized in personalized gifts and ingenious gadgets and made her an American household name, died on Monday December 14 2015 in Manhattan. She was 88. Her death was confirmed by her son Fred P. Hochberg, the president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Ms. Vernon, who had come to the United States as a Jewish immigrant from Germany fleeing the Nazis, began her mail-order business in 1951, and it rapidly flourished. At one time it had nine catalogs, 15 outlet stores, two websites, a business-to-business division and yearly revenue close to $300 million. In 1987, Lillian Vernon was the first company owned by a woman to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed her chairwoman of the National Women’s Business Council. Lillian Vernon was born Lilli Menasche in Leipzig, Germany, on March 18, 1927, the daughter of Herman Menasche and the former Erna Feiner. Her father was a lingerie merchant. In 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor of Germany, her family fled to Amsterdam; they moved to New York City in 1937. Her brother, Fred, later enlisted in the United States Army and was killed in World War II. She attended New York University for two years but left to marry Sam Hochberg, whose family owned a dry goods store in Mount Vernon, N.Y. In 1951, newly married and pregnant, she took $2,000 of her wedding money — and part of the name of her town — to start a mail-order business on her yellow Formica kitchen table. Overexpansion and competition from home and gift retailers led to slowing sales, and in 2003 Ms. Vernon sold her business for $60.5 million to Ripplewood Holdings, which took it private. She remained as honorary chairwoman until November 2006, when the company was sold to Sun Capital Partners. Since 2008, the Lillian Vernon Corporation has been owned by Current USA, a division of the Taylor Corporation. Her company remained a family affair for most of its history, with Ms. Vernon as chairwoman and chief executive and her son David C. Hochberg as vice president for public affairs. Her older son, Fred, was president and chief operating officer until 1992, when he left over a disagreement about his ascension to the top. Ms. Vernon, who died in a hospital, lived in Manhattan. In addition to her sons, she is survived by her husband, Paolo Martino, whom she married in 1998. Her marriage to Sam Hochberg ended in divorce, as did her second marriage, to Robert Katz.