A person I would like to thank/mention in the history of the high end,

Many would think of Henry Kloss, Saul Marantz and many other people that have added much to the wonderful world of great audio equipment.  A person that has had much impact on several systems I have owned and enjoyed is Nelson Pass.  So a tip of the glass of holiday cheer to you, Mr. Pass.....thanks.  

Pro tip: had you put his name in your title you'd have traffic to this nice sentiment. 
I have to go with the late Henry Kloss.  It was his musical but affordable large Advents that started me down the road of a lifetime of enjoying HiFi.  I was a sophomore in college when I first discovered these college students' budget friendly speakers.  Almost 50 years later, I'm still changing things up in the pursuit of affordable lifelike sound. 
The designer of my dac Christophe Mariac.....Starting point system NOS dac....It is very difficult to create a low cost dac with more than great S.Q. I dont think if cost is in the hi-end equation tough that my dac is one contender in the hi-end field...

BUT my amplifier designer, beginning with high quality transformer,
Mr. Sansui was.....😁

«The company was founded in Tokyo in 1947 by Kosaku Kikuchi, who had worked for a radio parts distributor in Tokyo before and during World War II. Due to the poor quality of radio parts Kikuchi had to deal with, he decided to start his private radio part manufacturer facility in December 1944 in Yoyogi, Tokyo. He picked transformers as his initial product line. Kikuchi’s thought was "Even with higher prices, let’s make the higher quality of products.» WIKI.
Tom Fletcher - Nottingham Analogue Studio turntables.
Flemming Rasmussen - Gryphon Audio.
Neville Thiele and Richard Small who changed speaker design from guessing to a science and vastly moved development forward and made it more accessible.

Cutler (Bell Labs) who pulled together many of the concepts necessary for sigma Delta ADC and DACs including noise shaping which eventually lead to the far better studio ADCs (and most DACs made today).

Toole for relentless pursuit of what really matters in speakers and has likely influenced most modern speaker designers.

John Mullin who took German WW2 basic magnetic tape technology and "perfected" it to create a giant leap forward in audio recording capability.

Dolby for professional noise reduction.

Frank McIntosh and Paul Klipsch.

I believe Frank built the foundation for the company that exists today with his name.  So many of the early audio pioneers built such great companies, but Frank's is one that seems to have kept its place in the industry as time marched on.

I met Paul in 1979 when he visited the audio store I was working at, I found him to be a very "down to earth" person.
Henry Kloss whose Model 11 got me into the whole thing years ago.
John Curl for wonderful Parasound equipment.
And Nelson Pass whose equipment I own and enjoy now.
John Dunlavy, Tom Fletcher, Bill Johnson, Peter Walker, Akio Morita, Hisayoshi Nakatsuka, Van Den Hul, Yoshiaki Sugano, Hiroyasu Kondo, Saul Marantz,  Alastair Robertson-Aikman.......


Well, let's not forget Mr. James C Strickland of ACOUSTAT and Mr. Rudy t Bozak. THE CONCERT GRAND !

Dr. Edgar Choueiri ... Who else after the stereo system first  designer who i forgot the name ...  ?