James (Jim) Easton passed away at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends. He was 88 years old.
As a young man in the 1950s, Jim worked in his father’s archery shop by day and studied engineering at UCLA by night. Eventually, after five years at Douglas Aircraft where he worked on the DC-8 jetliner, Mr. Easton returned to the family business to help make the Easton company the world’s foremost innovator of sporting goods, such as ice hockey sticks, baseball bats, and arrow shafts used at the Olympic Games and worldwide.
Jim Easton’s deep involvement in the sport of archery is particularly credited with that sport being designated as a core Olympic Games event today.
Mr. Easton had seen the products he developed transform every sport into which he delved. Even after becoming president of the international governing body for archery, and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Easton’s passion for excellence drove him to spend hours per week on his company’s shop floor, improving processes and rubbing elbows daily with his large staff of engineers.
As president of the World Archery Federation for 16 years (1988 to 2004) Mr. Easton innovated new competition formats making archery a television-friendly sport, one of the most-watched during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Mr. Easton was elected to the International Olympic Committee in 1994. As IOC Vice-President, and as an Executive Board member, Mr. Easton worked hard to support the Olympic Games, having previously served as Archery Commissioner, Olympic Village Mayor, and Technology Commissioner for the highly successful 1984 Olympic Games.
Mr. Easton was a board member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and served on the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games.
Mr. Easton 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. Some of Jim Easton’s earliest memories involved helping his parents and younger brother build wooden aviation map cases for WWII Allied pilots.
Throughout high school, Mr. Easton was a competitive archer, taking a podium at a U.S. Nationals in the 1950s. After his return to the family business in the early 1960s, he collaborated with his younger brother, world-renowned architect Robert (Bob) Easton, to create the first aluminum ski poles. He also developed a critical part of NASA’s lunar instrumentation for the Apollo manned lunar program.
Mr. Easton moved the company beyond archery into baseball and softball equipment, ice and field hockey equipment, tennis racquets, golf equipment, bicycles, and many other pursuits. But archery was always his dearest passion and pursuit. To that end, he was credited with the earliest development of carbon fiber for archery bows and arrows.
He met his wife, Phyllis, while creating technical literature to advance the sport of archery. Together they created numerous books and videos documenting the history of the sport in the Olympic Games and oversaw philanthropic work benefiting UCLA and other institutions around the world.
In later years, two substantial sports development foundations, created with proceeds from his archery and team sports businesses, fulfilled Mr. Easton’s interests in philanthropy. In particular, Mr. Easton built numerous world-class archery centers for the advancement and teaching of the sport throughout the United States and helped create a world level archery training center in Lausanne, Switzerland, near the IOC headquarters.
Jim Easton was awarded the UCLA Medal in 2014, and made substantial contributions to UCLA, and Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Research Center, Intermountain Hospital Trauma Center, Primary Children’s Hospital and The National Ability Center.
His family-owned archery companies, Hoyt Archery and Easton Technical Products employ more than 400 workers in Utah and Indiana.
Mr. Easton is survived by his wife of 29 years, Phyllis, son Greg, daughter Lynn, and three grandchildren. The family will celebrate Jim’s life at a private memorial observance.