Mary Anderson, REI Co-Founder, Dies

Mary Anderson, REI Co-Founder, Dies

Mary Anderson, a co-founder of REI, has passed away at the age of 107.

Mary Anderson and her husband, Lloyd, founded REI in Seattle, WA in 1938.

The couple had learned climbing techniques through a Mountaineers class taught by famous mountaineer Wolf Bauer and had become so inspired that they began teaching climbing courses themselves. At the time, the high-quality climbing gear was hard to get in the U.S. The Andersons imported an Akadem Pickel ice axe from Austria for themselves, and decided to set up a cooperative to help outdoor enthusiasts acquire good quality climbing gear at reasonable prices.

A former school teacher, Anderson worked on the operations front of REI, including back-office functions such as warehousing, the mail-order business as well as tasks such a sewing tents and hiring new employees. An accomplished mountaineer, he reached over 500 peaks in the 50s and 60s.

She retired from REI in 1968,

“Today we learned that this week, REI co-founder Mary Anderson died at the age of 107,” REI CEO and president Jerry Stritzke wrote in a blog post. “Our deepest condolences go to her family. She means a lot to us here at the co-op and we are grateful for her legacy.”