Often called “Nike’s Employee #3″, Geoff Hollister passed away yesterday, just three days after his 66th birthday, after a long battle with cancer. The Oregon native was born on February 3rd, 1946 and was an Oregonian in every sense of the term. After graduating from South Eugene High School in 1964, Hollister went on to University of Oregon, where he ran under the tutelage of track & field coach Bill Bowerman. To optimize his runner’s performance, Bowerman often asked Hollister to run in his prototype footwear. Not long afterwards, Phil Knight offered Hollister a job at his start-up with Bowerman, Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), then a distributor for Japan’s Tiger sneakers. After opening BRS West, the company’s first retail store, Hollister became ever more involved when BRS spun off a sub-label from Tiger in 1972. That new entity was Nike.
Thanks to Hollister’s intuitions as a runner and business acumen, Nike thrived in the then largely ignored running community. Seeing a need to develop next generation of track & field stars after a dismal showing in the 1976 Summer Olympics at Montreal, Hollister organized Athletics West, a sponsored program for athletes and coaches alike. His ability to think outside of the box helped to create innovative product like the Nike Aqua Socks. And when cumbersome track jackets weigh down Nike athletes, Hollister introduced the lightweight Nike Windrunner Jacket and its iconic 26-degree chevron design. During his later years at Nike, Hollister helped to secure the brand with a Swoosh a place in youth track & field programs across the U.S. When Bill Bowerman passed away in 1999, Hollister developed the Bowerman Project in honor of his former coach and mentor.
Geoff Hollister is survived his wife Wendy, who still works at Nike, 2 children from a previous marriage, his son Tracy, daughter Kaili, several grand children, as well as two younger sisters. Not to mention, the thousands who benefited from his programs and products