Skip to main content

In Memoriam: Gert Boyle, Legendary ‘Tough Mother’ and Longtime Head of Columbia Sportswear, Has Passed at 95

gert-boyle-tough-mother-1
Image courtesy of Columbia Sportswear

Gertrude Lamfrom was born on March 6th, 1924, in the city of Augsburg, Germany. The first few years of her life were peaceful and comfortable, with money no issue as her family owned a thriving shirt factory. The issue was the fact that the Lamfroms were Jews. The factory was seized as the Nazis tightened their stranglehold on the nation, and the family fled the country in 1937. The Lamfroms settled in Portland, Oregon, not far from the Columbia river, namesake of the brand she and her family would establish and build into a titan of the performance apparel industry.

But Gert herself never really intended to run an empire of outerwear and outdoor gear. It was the untimely death of her husband, Joseph “Neal” Boyle, that thrust her into the role she would come to fill so perfectly. In 1938, Gert’s parents purchased a small millinery company which they named the Columbia Hat Company. Neal had taken over the company in 1964 after the death of his father-in-law, Gert’s dad Paul. Then, in 1970, Neal died suddenly at the age of 47.

Gert became president of the company now called Columbia Sportswear — they had begun producing apparel beyond hats in the early 1960s — and would remain in that role until 1988, and she served as head of the board from 1983 until her death on November 3, 2019. When Gert took over Columbia, with assistance from her son Timothy, who would take over as president of the company in 1988, annual sales were around $800,000 and the company was facing bankruptcy.

Thanks in large part to Gert’s guidance, Columbia enjoyed tremendous growth over the ensuing decades. By the late 1980s, the company saw annual sales near $20 million, and by the late 1990s, sales had passed $355 million each year. In 2018, Columbia, now a public company and parent of brands including Sorel and Mountain Hardware, saw sales of over $2.8 billion.

For many people, Columbia will always be associated with Gert thanks to the “Tough Mother” television commercials that began running in 1984. In the ads, a deadpan Gert puts her adult son Tim through all manner of trying feats as they test out their company’s products in the field. Not only did the highly successful ads propel sales growth, but they also cemented Gert’s reputation as a no-nonsense, tough love figure.

This persona was largely a bluff, as at heart Gert was a warm and loving person and a noted philanthropist. Alongside her legacy as the head of Columbia Sportswear, she will be remembered as a major supporter of the Special Olympics and a major donor to the Knight Cancer Institute. Gert Boyle was 95.

Steven John
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Here’s how to enjoy watching soccer when you’re not a die-hard fan of the sport
Confused about the 'Beautiful Game?' We'll show you how to get into soccer
Megan Rapinoe USA v Netherlands 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Finals soccer

 
We’ve all heard the complaints about soccer, the world’s most popular sport. "There isn’t enough scoring," we like to mutter. "There are so many fake injuries," we say. "Ties! Outrageous!"
Whether you’re a fan or you only find yourself watching soccer during the Olympics or the World Cup, soccer (or football if you're anywhere but the U.S.) is here to stay. In fact, with more U.S. networks picking up tournaments and league games abroad — not to mention a flourishing home-grown league in the MLS — the sport is only expanding its already massive reach.
If American football is your thing, so be it. Love hoops? Me too. But there are ways to enjoy a soccer match for even the most casual or curious viewer.

Focus off the ball

Read more
We love this Tribit StormBox speaker for cookouts, beach days, more — $35 off
Tribit StormBox Flow Bluetooth speaker Prime Day deal

It's summertime, which means you may be spending more time outdoors. Maybe you'll be exploring the wilderness, visiting a beach, or doing some camping or fishing. Either way, wouldn't it be nice to have some tunes? You can certainly achieve that thanks to an Amazon Prime Day deal on the Tribit StormBox Flow. It's a fantastic option for cookouts, beach days, and camping because it's tough, waterproof, and built to take a beating. Oh, and it sounds awesome, too. Usually $80, the Tribit StormBox Flow is down to $64 for Prime Day, but you can clip an on-page coupon to get the price even lower, to $45, saving you $35. Get pulsating, punchy beats with 9dB of power, up to 30 hours of battery life and customized equalizer modes through the Tribit app.

 
Why we love the Tribit StormBox Flow for outdoor adventures
First, it's a Bluetooth speaker, and you can't have a decent speaker without good sound. Outperforming many comparable options, the Tribit StormBox Flow sounds incredible, and you don't even have to bother with the Tribit app. It sounds great out of the box. That's thanks to clear treble and pounding bass, which is surprisingly impressive for such a small device. That's made possible by Tribit's proprietary XBoss tuning DSP technology, which helps boost the bass to a 9dB power rating. If you know nothing about specifications, all you need to know is that it's powerful, pulse-pounding and has exceptional audio fidelity.

Read more
Best Blackstone Prime Day deals
A man using the Blackstone 36-inch Gas Griddle Cooking Station in a yard.

If you're going to grill the steak of your dreams you're going to need the perfect grill, and Blackstone grills are offering up some savings among all of the Prime Day deals going on. We've made our selection for the best Prime Day Blackstone grill deal, and we've tracked down some other selections that offer some great savings. Read onward for a look at the best Prime Day Blackstone deals going on right now, and make a purchase quickly if you see something you like. Prime Day deals are known to end abruptly and inventories are likely starting to run low.
Best Blackstone grill Prime Day deal
Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle -- $124, was $147

If you’re keen to cook outdoors more but you’re also planning on traveling a lot, you need the Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle. It’ll work well in your yard, but it’s also portable enough that you can take it with you while you camp and travel on many different adventures, hence the name "adventure ready."

Read more