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Bill Danner, the Man Behind Danner Boots, Dies at 97

Bill Danner of Danner Boots

Bill Danner of Danner Boots, a man who transformed a struggling company into a prominent hunting boot manufacturer, has died.

KOIN 6 News reported that Bill Danner, who took his father’s struggling local bootmaking business and transformed it into one of the country’s most respected outdoor footwear brands, died on December 24 in Milwaukee. He was 97.

Most hunters in the Pacific Northwest have most likely owned a pair of Danners. In fact, my wife’s first pair of hunting boots were Danner Pronghorns – boots she still loves and wears to this day. Though my Pronghorns have long worn out and I currently wear Red Wing Elk Trackers.

Bill Danner eventually sold the business. However, his love of the outdoors continued. According to KOIN 6 News, Danner sold the business in 1983. KOIN also reports that in retirement, Danner and his wife, Miriam, traveled extensively. They visited and often volunteered in more than 35 countries. He most recently went on safari in Botswana in 2009 at the age of 89, the company says.

Here are a couple of interesting facts from the Danner Company timeline:

  • In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy stressed the importance of exercise, and seemingly overnight, outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking and mountain climbing became national fads. Danner recognized the growth opportunity and became the only domestic manufacturer of hiking boots.
  • In 1979, Danner’s unrelenting commitment to quality led to the development of construction methods to make wet feet a thing of the past. Using GORE-TEX® fabric, Danner was the first footwear brand to develop and to patent a unique way of making a truly waterproof boot.

Like the 2014 passing of Dick Cabela, it’s a sad day for the industry when another pathfinder is lost. We wish his family and loved ones the best during this time.

Bill Danner, the Man Behind Danner Boots, Dies at 97