Co-founder of the outdoor clothing business The North Face Douglas Tompkins, who donated millions to conservation, pἀssed away after plunging into waters almost frozen during a kayaking accἰdent in southern Chile.
Tompkins, 72, was transported to a hospital in Coyhaique with acute hypothermia when high winds flipped his expedition kayak on Tuesday (December 8, 2015) during a voyage across Lake General Carrera in Patagonia. He pἀssed away just six hours after being admitted to the hospital in the regional hub.
The pioneering clothing and equipment designer, who was also a co-founder of the Esprit clothing line, had spent millions over the previous 25 years funding national parks. He and his wife Kristine are credited with preserving two million acres of unspoiled South American habitats.
Tompkins relocated to Patagonia’s wilds in 1989, giving up his affluent business lifestyle and estate in San Francisco. After spending months kayaking, trekking, and studying the southern rainforests, Tompkins embraced the deep ecology movement’s principles and started a relentless conservation campaign.
He waged a campaign with alliances of environmental activists, first in Chile and subsequently in Argentina, to stop developers from razing virgin forests, wetlands, and coastal plains. Tompkins struggled with economic interests and frequent harassment from the Chilean government as he fought to restrict what he perceived as harmful businesses like forestry and salmon aquaculture.
Sebastián Pinéra, a self-made billionaire who served as president of Chile from 2010 to 2014, followed Tompkins’ lead by acquiring a sizable piece of Chiloe island and transforming it into a demonstration site for environmental preservation. Pinéra praised Tompkins for his efforts, in contrast to earlier Chilean presidents.
The North Face released a statement saying-
“Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment. His legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day. He most recently visited our headquarters in Alameda, CA in 2013 and again inspired us to live a life of outdoor exploration. He will be missed.”
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