James L. Easton, 1935-2023, Sporting Goods Innovator and Legend, died on December 4th, 2023, at his home in Los Angeles, CA. After several debilitating strokes, he fought a long battle for recovery the same way he had lived, with focus, determination, dignity, and hard work – he continued to be an inspiration to all that knew him. He was 88 years old.
Jim was born in Los Angeles on July 26, 1935, son of archery innovators Doug and Mary Easton. Doug Easton had built a business making highly crafted, custom archery gear, popular at the time with Hollywood luminaries such as Errol Flynn. From childhood, Jim worked with his mother and father in their archery shop.
Jim was determined to attend college and worked a full-time job at Douglas Aircraft while earning his engineering degree at UCLA (B.S. ’59). He completed U.S. Army Reserve training at Fort Ord and after graduation, he rejoined the family archery manufacturing equipment business.
Since 1972 Jim was CEO of Jas. D. Easton, Inc.(JDE), the international sporting goods company started by his father Doug Easton in 1922. The company developed the aluminum arrow shaft in 1946. Using the Easton proprietary manufacturing technology developed by his father, and his commitment to make products that truly enhanced the performance of the user, Jim changed the high-performance sports equipment industry.
Jim led the company in its revolutionary movement from wood and steel sports equipment to lightweight, high-strength, aluminum and carbon composite products. Easton arrows have dominated competitive, recreational and bowhunting archery ever since. The popular “Green Easton” (1979) and later-model Easton baseball and softball bats have dominated the college game for decades. After Wayne Gretzky switched to Easton (1990), the majority of NHL players started using the new Easton aluminum—and in 2004 the carbon composite—hockey stick.
Jim became CEO and Chairman of Easton-Bell Sports after the 2006 merger of Easton Sports, Bell, Giro, and Riddell. He remained Chairman of JDE, the world’s leading archery equipment company—owner of Easton Technical Products (arrows, accessories, and commercial tubing) and Hoyt (bows and accessories).
Jim left his mark on global sport, not just with products, but also with global sport leadership at the highest levels. Jim’s interest in sports and business led to his appointment as Archery Commissioner, Head of Technology and Mayor of the Athletes Village at UCLA during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Jim also organized and managed the 1983 FITA World Archery Championships. He produced all but one of the Olympic Games Technical Archery films from 1976 to 2004. As President of the World Archery Federation for 16 years from 1989 to 2005, he innovated new competition formats making archery exciting and television-friendly, and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, one of the most-watched sports. His deep involvement in the sport of archery is credited with it being designated as a core sport in the Olympic Games.
In 1994, Jim was co-opted as Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has served as vice president, Executive Board Member and became an Honorary IOC Member in 2015.
Jim was a member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Board of Directors for over 20 years. Since its inception, he has served on the board of LA84, the Legacy Foundation of the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Jim’s commitment to archery is evidenced by the establishment of the Easton Sports Development Foundations (The Easton Foundations) created in 1982 to provide excellence in leadership, facilities, programs, training and education for the growth and development of sports related to Easton products with a special emphasis on archery.
This philanthropy has made a world-wide impact on archery through the building and support of archery centers around the world including the Easton Archery Center of Excellence in Chula Vista, California, and numerous Archery Centers in the United States. Funding to World Archery’s Development Foundation has enabled international programs and construction of the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Jim was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 1997, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012, and received the U.S. Olympic Committee Olive Branch Achievement Award (2012) and the USOC Olympic Torch award (2016). In 2014, he received the Utah Sportsman of the Year award and in 2016, the Utah Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Other awards include the Little League Distinguished Ambassador Award, NFAA Compton Medal of Honor, Sporting Goods Hall of Fame, and Bowhunters Hall of Fame.
Jim never forgot his collegiate roots. His philanthropic initiatives have benefited UCLA engineering, business, medicine, and sports. He was a recipient of the UCLA Medal for his achievement as a global leader in business and philanthropy, the highest honor bestowed to an individual by the University of California at Los Angeles.
We celebrate the life that was Jim Easton’s. A life of hard work. Genius. Generosity. Integrity. Passion. A loving husband, father, and grandfather. A modest, yet relentless, seeker of excellence, Jim Easton will be greatly missed by the many people that were touched by him and had admiration for him, and whose sports and lives were made more productive and fun because of him.
Jim is survived by his wife of 29 years, Phyllis, son Greg, daughter Lynn, three grandchildren (Charlotte, James, and Elaine), stepdaughters Sloan and Stacy, five step-grandchildren (Logan, Joey, Gavin, Jaden, and Daxton), and brother Robert Easton.
The family will celebrate Jim’s life at a private memorial observance.
Memories of Jim can be shared at – https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/los-angeles-ca/james-easton-11572500
Gifts honoring Jim’s life can be made to The Easton Foundations or to UCLA Foundation by visiting the pages below:
The Easton Foundations: https://www.esdf.org/