Gert Boyle, the longtime chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear, has died at age 95, the company announced today.
"Our 'One Tough Mother' held many jobs at Columbia, from seamstress of the first fishing vest to President to advertising icon," the company said in a statement. "Her sharp wit and wisdom helped propel the company from near bankruptcy in the early '70s to the global multi-brand company it is today, with annual net sales of almost $3 billion in 2018. Her pioneering role as a woman in what was then a male-dominated industry is a testament to her strength of character and ability to persevere through difficult situations."
Boyle's father founded the company after their family fled Nazi Germany. Gert Boyle took control of the company in 1970 after her husband's death—and became a national icon in the 1980s, featured in advertising showing her testing Columbia's products in inclement weather.
Boyle remained active in the company until her death. She is Columbia's second largest individual shareholder, according to company filings, with 9.45 million shares worth nearly $850 million. A generous philanthropist, Boyle supported numerous local organizations, most notably giving Oregon Health & Science University's Knight Cancer $100 million in 2014.
Boyle is survived by her son Tim, Columbia's CEO and her daughters, Kathy Deggendorfer, an artist, and Sarah Baney, a Columbia board member and the co-owner of Moonstruck Chocolates.