Where We Live: Marie Lamfrom’s legacy


Marie Lamfrom and her husband founded Columbia Sportswear in 1938

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Marie “BlueBird” Lamfrom and her husband Paul founded Columbia Sportswear and behind left a legacy that will benefit Oregonians for years to come.

Marie’s granddaughter, Sally Bany, said Marie started Columbia Sportswear in 1938 after she and Paul emigrated from Germany.

Marie was a nurse in World War I and also ran a Girl Scout troop at Shriners Hospital, giving help and hope to children with disabilities. Sally said, “She was just a very, very giving person [who] cared a lot about people.”

In 1998, Sally and her husband Dave started a foundation in her grandmother’s name: the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation. Their mission was to “continue the spirit of the things she cared about.”

To date, the foundation has donated more than $18 million to charities and causes across Oregon, including Meals on Wheels People, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Providence Child Center and food for Portland Backpack. It’s also provided mask-making materials during the pandemic for Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Sublimity, Oregon.

Marie and Paul’s daughter, Gert Boyle, was the long-time face and matriarch of Columbia Sportswear. She passed away in 2019 at the age of 95. But her legacy will help Oregonians for years to come through the foundation created by her daughter, Sally.

“We were very, very fortunate that when my mom passed, she left a large portion of her estate to our foundation,” Sally said.

With $150 million in assets, the foundation is granting $9 million to worthy causes in 2021 alone. Sally said the foundation is able to make decisions quickly thanks to its small number of staff members. “It’s all about what we can do to help people,” she said.

Learn more about the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, including how to submit a request for aid.

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