Douglas Tompkins, who built a fortune in the clothing business and used it to preserve large tracts of wilderness in South America, died of hypothermia Tuesday after a kayaking accident in southern Chile, The New York Times and The Guardian write. He was 72.
Mr. Tompkins started the outdoor apparel and equipment maker North Face in the 1960s and later helped start the casual clothing line Esprit. In the 1990s, he and his second wife, Kristine Tompkins, former chief executive of the clothing firm Patagonia, left the corporate world and moved to South America, where they became active — and sometimes controversial — eco-philanthropists. The couple spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy vast areas of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, much of which they donated to create national parks.