Editorials from around Oregon

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:


The Oregonian/OregonLive, Nov. 6, on the death of Columbia Sportswear's chairwoman Gert Boyle:

Gert Boyle's intimidating glare in Columbia Sportswear commercials will surely live on in people's memories of the company's longtime chairwoman, who died last week at age 95. As the unyielding mother who sent her son through extreme conditions to test the company's outerwear, Boyle gained folk-hero status in the popular "tough mother" ad campaign that hit the sweet spot of quirky humor and effective marketing.

But it was the mettle she showed in real life that should resonate most deeply with Oregonians. In personal challenges - from fleeing Nazi Germany as a teen to foiling a kidnapping attempt as an 86-year-old - and professional ones, Boyle showed remarkable toughness and resilience of which commercials can barely capture a glimpse. In leading a company that now stands as one of Oregon's most successful, Boyle has shown how an immigrant, a woman and a mother can reshape the landscape as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and a cultural icon.

Boyle was tested from a young age. In 1937, Boyle and her family, who were Jewish, left Germany where the family had already encountered anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment. Settling in Portland, where her uncle lived, Boyle faced a new life in a country where she knew few words. She recalled decades later that she had to start school in the first grade as a 13-year-old.

As the family settled in, Boyle's father bought a hat company that would later become Columbia Sportswear. Boyle went to the University of Arizona, where she met Neal Boyle. The two married, and her husband joined the family business, eventually taking over management of the expanding company after Gert's father died.

But her husband's unexpected death in 1970 put Boyle on the hot seat. The business had recently taken a loan out with her mother's house and her own as collateral and she knew that her son, Tim, who left his senior year at the University of Oregon to help her, was too young to lead the company.

"So, I said this is my time, it can't be all that hard," she said in a 2008 interview. "It'll be just like running your house, I thought: If you don't have the money, you don't spend it."

The challenges mounted, however, and by 1972, Columbia Sportswear was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Boyle decided to sell the company - until the would-be buyer kept slicing off parts of the business that he said he wouldn't buy, dropping the price more and more. By the time he was finished, so was Boyle, who didn't give an inch.

"Over the years I have learned some very lovely words, so I used all of them on him," she recalled to The Oregonian. She vowed never to sell to him and threw him out of the office.

Like other companies that trace their arc to a pivotal moment, Boyle's stand is legendary in Columbia's history. Mother and son refocused, rebuilt the business and rode the release of the company's Bugaboo parka to success. Twenty-six years later, the company started offering shares to the public and notched its first billion-dollar sales year in 2004. These days, the Washington-County based company has more than 7,800 employees and global sales of $2.8 billion.

That wealth enabled her to give generously - to organizations including Special Olympics as well as a blockbuster $100 million gift to OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, where the money has helped hire researchers. Initially, the gift was meant to be anonymous, until word leaked out. She quipped to the Portland Business Journal, that people "thought it was a man. That's the thing I got the greatest kick out of."

But her wealth also made her a target in a 2010 attempted kidnapping when a man followed her into her garage and pulled out a replica gun in an attempt to hold her for ransom. Boyle, ever collected, told him she would need to disable the home's alarm. She pressed a silent alarm instead, which alerted police.

Even in times of intense stress, Boyle didn't buckle - or lose her sense of humor, jabbing the West Linn police chief for wearing a competitor's jacket. There may be no other person in Oregon who so personifies the state's ethic of independence and toughness.

Rest in peace to Gert Boyle. She flew with her own wings - and lifted Oregon along with her.


The Bulletin, Nov. 5, on book publisher Macmillan limiting libraries to one copy an e-book in the first eight weeks of publication:

It's a fight that shouldn't happen. As of Nov. 1 the book publisher Macmillan has limited libraries to purchasing a single copy of any of its e-books for the first eight weeks of publication. After that, the libraries may buy as many copies of the book as they usually do. At the Deschutes Public Library, that means 20 to 30 copies of books that are expected to be popular.

Macmillan is not alone in changing the way it deals with libraries, to be sure. Three of the other four of the country's major book publishers may not have embargoed e-book copies as Macmillan has, but they've changed the way they do business with the nation's public libraries, and not to the libraries' advantage.

Libraries and the publishers need each other, and the embargo, which is being met in some parts of the country by a boycott, is no help to either side. Deschutes County's library system will not take part in the boycott.

Publishers have had a tough year in 2019. According to the American Booksellers Association, bookstore book sales have been down every month this year, and publishers believe there's evidence to indicate that free-access library e-books may be responsible for some of that fall.

Yet the embargo makes it impossible for libraries to offer the hottest new titles to their patrons in anything like a timely fashion, a burden that falls most heavily on libraries' least well-heeled users. It also makes it more difficult for new authors to get the sort of exposure that could lead to better book sales down the road. And, it surely raises the ire of library patrons who find that wait times for new e-books have gone up dramatically.

Libraries and book publishers need each other. One supplies the reading material and the other supplies interest in new authors and titles. Some of that interest will, inevitably, lead to book sales for publishers. Both would be better served if they worked to strengthen, rather than destroy, their symbiotic relationship.


The East Oregonian, Nov. 6, on the positive community spirit of volunteers who cleaned up a veteran's cemetery in Pendleton:

A big shout-out of praise to the volunteers who arrived at Olney Cemetery last weekend to spruce it up before Veterans Day.

Students and adults spent time at the cemetery doing a great community service and they did it because it was the right thing to do, not for money or praise.

But praise should be lavished on all who showed up to help out.

The event was one of those rare, feel-good happenings that not only sends the right kind of message about our residents and our youth but make Pendleton a better place to live and work.

One of the best things about the volunteer effort was that a good share of the people there helping out were students from Sunridge Middle School and Pendleton High School.

We like to highlight on this page and this space, as much as possible, how important it is to volunteer to help out the community.

We understand taking time out of a busy schedule is difficult. Jobs, families, our own personal goals and dreams all compete for our time and effort. So that makes blocking out a significant amount of time on a weekend to give back extremely difficult.

Yet there are very few actions a voter can take that deliver the kind of noble satisfaction giving back to the community bestows. We all want our communities to be the best they can be. We all want to be able to look over our town and feel a sense of pride and satisfaction at how it looks.

The one way we can make sure that the good work — like helping spruce up the cemetery before the onset of Veterans Day — is completed is through volunteerism. We could shrug our shoulders and say "It is the city or the county's problem," but that is a cop-out. Yes, we pay taxes to make sure essential work is done but at some point, we all have to get involved.

The best part about volunteering is it allows all of us, at one time or another, to make a difference. If you want to see your town look better, or want to voice your opinion about an ordinance or a law that was passed, the answer is really very simple: Get involved.

Kudos to the volunteers who helped out last weekend at the cemetery, and we see their effort as a good example to follow.