Eddie Bauer, Sporting Goods Pioneer
Eddie Bauer, who designed and developed the goose-down garment industry 50 years ago and founded the outdoor equipment company that bears his name, is dead at age 86.
He died April 18 of a heart attack at a hospital in this Seattle suburb, his son, Eddie C. Bauer, said Friday. The son said the delay in announcing the death was to settle estate matters without publicity.
The company bearing Bauer’s name has 41 retail outlets in the United States and Canada and 2 million mail-order customers. He unconditionally guaranteed his products, a practice followed by General Mills, which bought the business in 1968 when he retired.
Bauer, the son of Russian immigrants, began working when he was 13 in a Seattle sporting goods store.
He opened his first store in Seattle in 1920, stringing tennis rackets with a special vise he had devised.
“A year later, I’d put away $10,000,” he said. “And that was at a time when bank executives made $1,800 a year.”
His interest in goose down began with a tale told him by his uncle, who had been a Cossack officer during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. During one battle his uncle almost died in the cold and credited his survival to the down-insulated liner worn by Russian officers.
An avid fisherman and camper, Bauer was issued a patent from the U.S. Patent Office in 1936 for quilted down jackets and goose-down sleeping bags. During World War II he supplied more than 200,000 goose-down flight suits to U.S. pilots.
In 1963, he supplied equipment for the American Mt. Everest expedition.