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Mary Anderson, Co-Founder Of Outdoor Outfitter REI, Dies At 107


Mary Anderson loved climbing mountains. She and her husband Lloyd scaled the peaks of the Pacific Northwest where they lived. In the 1930s, their passion led to the founding of a successful business that catered to like-minded people, REI.

TOM VOGL: She joked that she and Lloyd never really intended to start up a store. They really just wanted to try to make it easier for people to get outdoors and experience the wondrous wilderness that surrounds us here in the Pacific Northwest.


Mary Anderson died recently at age 107.

VOGL: Mary was a pioneer.

CORNISH: Tom Vogl was the head of marketing for REI when Mary Andersen turned 100. He now leads a nonprofit outdoors community called The Mountaineers that Anderson was involved with.

VOGL: She and her husband Lloyd - they learned to climb and then immediately started volunteering and teaching other people to climb and got them into the outdoors and then went on to found REI in 1938.

SHAPIRO: REI started when the Andersons couldn't find the right climbing axe. So they sent away to Austria to get one. That led to more purchases. And soon friends were signing up to buy gear together, and the co-operative was born.

CORNISH: Lloyd Anderson died in 2000. Tom Vogl says the couple's longevity speaks to how they lived.

VOGL: I am thoroughly convinced that one of the key reasons why Mary lived to 107 years old is because she lived a really great life that was inspired by the outdoors.

SHAPIRO: Mary Anderson co-founder of REI died recently at the age of 107.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELAQUENT SONG, "LAST BREATH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.