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Gert Boyle, Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman and 'One Tough Mother,' Passes Away at 95

The face of the "One Tough Mother" ad campaign died Sunday, but not before leaving her legacy on the outdoor clothing industry.

The Oregonian has reported the passing of Gert Boyle, the outspoken female leader of Columbia Sportswear, at the age of 95.

Boyle ran the Portland, Oregon company from 1970 to 1988 before her son Tim Boyle took over as president and CEO. She served as chairwoman until her death.

In a press release from Columbia Sportswear, is what stated that "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."

Though she wasn't the biggest fan of her own commercial appearances, the "One Tough Mother" spots left a lasting impression on the outdoor world. It would go on to become arguably the most memorable ad campaign in the outdoor industry.

Though it's debatable whether or not the "Born to Nag" tattoo was real, it was still fitting. Stories of her "sharp wit and wisdom" mixed with a wicked tongue and never-apologize attitude helped launch the Portland company into the outdoor gear stratosphere. Many of those stories were shared in her autobiography.

Born overseas in Augsburg as Gert Lamfrom, Boyle's family escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s. She took over Columbia Hat Company, which her father had owned and where her husband Neal Boyle worked until his death from a heart attack in 1970, without any real business experience. The company was near bankruptcy, and Gert and her son Tim were left with significant decisions to make.

After they deflected an undercutting prospective buyer and transitioned the struggling company to Columbia Sportswear, the national brand went from $600,000 in sales in 1971 to net sales of nearly $3 billion in 2017.

Gert worked many jobs at Columbia, ranging from seamstress on the first fishing vest to president of the company. Above all, she was the matriarch the brand needed, and her role changed the small outdoor clothing company into a brand selling to approximately 90 countries worldwide.

Boyle's shares in the company were reportedly worth $900 million in 2018, which put her near the top of the wealthiest Oregonians. The female business leader was the first woman inducted into the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame.

After reestablishing the Columbia brand, Boyle donated $100 million to the Oregon Health and Sciences Knight Cancer Institute. She'd moved into an assisted living facility, but was the only resident of the retirement home who still held a job.

Columbia Sportswear Company also owns the Mountain Hardwear, SOREL, and prAna brands.

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Gert Boyle, Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman and 'One Tough Mother,' Passes Away at 95