News and analysis
February 08, 2015

No. 21: Gert Boyle

Fritz Liedtke

Amount donated in 2014: $102-million

Beneficiary: Oregon Health & Science University

Background: Ms. Boyle is chairman of Columbia Sportswear Company, which was founded by her father in 1938.

When her $100-million pledge was first announced last summer, Ms. Boyle, a well-known business figure in the Portland, Ore., area, didn’t want her name attached to it. But when she found out a local newspaper was about to reveal she was the donor, the 90-year-old retail magnate, who is known for her sense of humor and no-nonsense attitude, told university officials to beat the paper to it.

So the university posted a humorous video on Facebook in which Brian Druker, head of the university’s Knight Cancer Institute, and Ms. Boyle talk about the donation. In the video, Ms. Boyle speculates the donor must have been "a very wealthy man who did that."

Ms. Boyle’s late sister, Hildegard Lamfrom, was a researcher at the University of California at San Diego in the 1970s when Mr. Druker was a graduate student there. He credits Ms. Lamfrom with helping him decide to go to medical school.

Ms. Boyle is directing the money toward the cancer institute’s 10-year program to expand research and develop techniques to detect deadly cancers at the earliest stages. The gift will be paid over time.

In addition, Ms. Boyle gave the university $2-million for other cancer programs.

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.