Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face, dead at 72

Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face, dead at 72

*In a cruel case of irony, a co-founder of The North Face clothing company – which specializes in outerwear for cold and severe weather – has died from severe hypothermia.

Douglas Tompkins, who co-founded North Face as well as the clothing company Esprit, died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile, according to The Associated Press. He was reportedly boating with five others on Tuesday when their kayaks capsized in a lake in near freezing waters in the country’s Patagonia region. Tompkins died later in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Coyhaique, a town 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) south of Santiago.

Douglas Tompkins

Douglas Tompkins

The well-known conservationist, who bought up large swaths of land in Patagonia to keep them pristine, was 72.

“Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment,” The North Face said in a statement. “His legacy of conservation will help ensure that there are outdoor spaces to be explored for generations to come.”

Chile’s army said strong waves on General Carrerra Lake caused the group’s kayaks to capsize. A military patrol boat rescued three of the boaters and a helicopter lifted out the other three, it said.

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Douglas Rainsford Tompkins, born March 20, 1943, in Ohio, became one of the founders of The North Face in the 1960s. It started as a small ski and backpacking retail operation in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood under the mantra to “Never Stop Exploring.”

The brand has been ubiquitous in recent years in the U.S. The activewear company is now owned by VF Corp. of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Tompkins had two daughters.

A private memorial ceremony was being planned.