Jerry Turner, founder of American Sporting Goods and Turner Footwear, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 84. Turner was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, in the center of the U.S., but was educated on both coasts, ending up with an MBA from Berkeley in California. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was president of Brooks Athletic Shoe Company, also called Brooks Running Shoes, which under his leadership became one of the three top-selling brands in the U.S. It was at this time that, according to a well-known anecdote, Turner was approached by a distance runner, Marty Liquori, with a request for a midsole made of something other than the customary rubber. Looking outside the immediate industry, Turner consulted Monarch Rubber in Baltimore, where a chemical engineer suggested ethylene vinyl acetate, or EVA, a light, waterproof, durable material that was introduced the following year in a shoe called the Brooks Villanova. Just a couple of years later, in 1977, Brooks introduced another innovation, the varus wedge, to correct excessive pronation of the foot, in its Vantage, Vanguard and Victor models. That same year, the Vantage took the top slot in Runner's World magazine. In 1979, Turner founded the American Sporting Goods Corporation, home to Turntec running shoes, Nevados hiking shoes and eventually, through acquisitions, the Avia, And1 and Rykä brands. Decades later, in 2011, he sold the company to the Brown Shoe Company of St. Louis, Missouri, now called Caleres, and retired. But Turner was not done yet. In 2017, he launched Turner Footwear, with its “Legends Evolve” slogan.

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