'One Tough Mother' Gert Boyle dies at 95
Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert Boyle died Sunday morning, Nov. 3. She was 95.
The global sports apparel company's matriarch led the board since 1970. Columbia officials said their "One Tough Mother" held various jobs at the sportswear business, from sewing the first fishing vest to becoming company president.
Boyle was a pioneer in a male-dominated industry, inspiring women around the world to persevere through hard times and difficult situations. A company statement said her humor and business savvy was something sought by many people.
The company has asked for donations to the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute in lieu of flowers. An announcement about a celebration of her life will be released soon, according to Columbia. "There is much to be celebrated," company officials said in a statement.
According to Columbia, at age 13, Gert Boyle and her family fled Nazi Germany and moved to Portland. Her parents, Paul and Marie Lamfrom, founded what was then called Columbia Hat Co. in 1938. After attending the University of Arizona, she and her husband, Neal Boyle, returned to Oregon and joined the family business.
When her father died, Neal became company president. Six years later, at the age of 47, Neal Boyle died of a heart attack. Gert found herself at the helm of a financially struggling company. Her son Tim, while still in college, helped run the business. After a year they were advised by a banker to sell Columbia, but they declined an offer of $1,400 for the business.
Columbia has grown into a global seller of outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment, with annual sales of more than $1 billion. Gert Boyle has become an industry icon. Her autobiography, "One Tough Mother," was published in 2005. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Sporting Goods Association Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the Global Business Hall of Fame and the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.
Among the award Boyle earned were:
The SBA Outstanding Business Person Award for Oregon (1977)
The Oregon chapter of Women's Forum Woman of the Year Award (1987)
A Top 50 Woman Business Owner by Working Woman Magazine (1993-96)
Oregon Entrepreneur of the Year, Oregon Enterprise Forum (1994)
The Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement (1998)
Awarded the Jimmy Huega "Can Do" Award (2003)
Member, Oregon Commemorative Coin Commission (2004)
Honored with Portland's First Citizen Award (2005)
Women of Distinction Award, Marylhurst University (2008)
Small Business Association Impact Award (2009)
Outstanding Mother Award, National Mother's Day Committee (2009)
Women of Achievement Award, Oregon Commission for Women (2009)
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. KOIN's story can be found here.
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