Infamous “Queen of Carpet” Becky Rothman passed away on Sunday. For nearly 30 years, generations of St. Louisans were amused by her flying over the Gateway Arch in those advertisements. She was 67 years old.
Her passing was verified by Rothman’s nephew, Marc, on Monday afternoon. He said that she had been receiving dialysis for some time before her away at Missouri Baptist Medical Center due to complications from kidney illness.
Rothman was born into the flooring business on Feb. 3, 1956. Her father, Murray, opened Veterans Linoleum and Rug Co. in East St. Louis 10 years earlier in 1946.
“I think it was my 16th birthday. He said, ‘Here’s a set of keys to the store, here’s a set of keys to the car, and I’ll see you after school,’” she said in a 1999 interview.
According to her family, Rothman was the middle child and only girl out of a total of five children.
She and two of her brothers, Arnold and Jules, took over management of the family firm after the older Rothman passed away in 1981.
According to Rothman’s relatives, her “greatest attribute was her generosity—and not just toward those who were close to her. Everyone in her vicinity was regarded as family.
“She was very passionate about all animals, particularly her Dobermans,” they said, adding she served as a foster for Midwest Doberman Rescue of St. Louis, and trained and competed dogs in Schutzhund.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Rothman made numerous commercial appearances alongside Wanda Kilzer, dubbed the “Princess of Tile.” The two would frequently wear sequined gowns and tiaras on their heads.
Before launching her own carpet business, Wanda’s Carpet Inc., also in Collinsville, Illinois, in 2000, Kilzer worked as a manager at Veterans Carpet, which was owned by Rothman. 2011 saw her passing.
Other St. Louis personalities, including Steve Mizerany, who began his career as a zany pitchman for his family’s appliance store in the mid-1900s, also appeared in the commercials.
Rothman wrote many of the commercials herself and worked with Mark Earls to produce them at locations throughout the St. Louis area.
Nobody beats Becky’s, “Rich man’s carpet at a working man’s price,” and, in one video that showed the queen and princess soaring through space, “We fly high to keep prices down to Earth,” were some of the taglines that appeared at the end of the commercials.
Becky’s Carpet and Tile Superstore had locations all throughout Illinois and Missouri during its peak. The remaining few stores shut down in 2012.
According to her nephew, Rothman was a lifelong resident of St. Louis who most recently resided in Ballwin.
Rachel Reynolds, one of her daughters, is still alive. Her mother Donna Rothman, brother Allen Rothman, sister-in-law Deborah (Jerry) Rothman, and father all died before her.
Funeral plans weren’t finalized as of Monday.