Co-founder of The North Face clothing line dies while kayaking in Chile

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By Sam Beebe (Doug Tompkins) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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PATAGONIA, Chile (Dec. 9, 2015) — Doug Tompkins, the co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing lines, died Tuesday while kayaking in Patagonia, Chile. He was 72.

Tompkins was an avid conservationist and created the Conservation Land Trust which had environmental projects in Chile and Argentina.

“We can confirm he has passed away and it happened today,” trust spokeswoman Alison Kelman told CNNMoney.

She said Tompkins was kayaking near Patagonia Park. It was not clear what was the cause of death, but Kelman said he was taken to a hospital in Coyhaique where he died.

Tompkins, an avid adventurer, founded The North Face in 1964 and a few years later created Esprit along with his first wife Susie. Esprit grew to more than $1 billion in sales, according to his conservation web site. He sold his share of Esprit in the late 1980s and began his career in conservation by creating the Foundation for Deep Ecology and moving to Chile.

He is survived by his wife Kris who spent 20 years as the CEO of the Patagonia clothing company. She retired in 1993, married Tompkins and moved to Chile where they both concentrated on environmental projects.

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