Doug Tompkins, founder of both North Face and Esprit, died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile at the age of 72.
Tompkins suffered severe hypothermia and was flown to Coyhaique Regional Hospital, where his death was confirmed, The New York Times reported.
In addition to founding North Face in the mid-1960s, he cofounded multibillion-dollar casual sportswear retailer Esprit with his first wife, Susie Tompkins Buell, and Jane Tise.
By 1990, Tompkins became wary of the corporate world, sold his stake in Esprit—reportedly worth more than $150 million—and used that fortune to fund conservation efforts in Chile and Argentina. An avid conservationist, he also founded the Foundation for Deep Ecology.
Tompkins' second wife, Kristine Tompkins, was the former CEO of clothing company Patagonia. They moved to South America in the 1990s and bought about 2.2 million acres of land in Chile, including 715,000 acres of rain forest, between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.
The couple were most recently focused on creating new parks in Patagonia and in the Ibera wetlands in northeastern Argentina.
On Instagram, North Face paid tribute to Tompkins stating, "He founded The North Face in 1966 as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. He was a passionate advocate for the environment, and his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day."
He is survived by his wife, two daughters, his mother, Faith, and his brother, John.
-See the story in The New York Times
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