Jerry Turner, the American Sporting Goods founder and former president of Brooks, died July 9. During his 60-year career in the athletic footwear space, Turner made an indelible mark on the athletic footwear business, including the introduction of the first shoe style made with the now-ubiquitous EVA. He was 84.
As president of Brooks Athletic Shoe Co. in the 1960s and the 1970s, Turner is credited with inventing the stability running shoe category and introducing the first style with an EVA midsole, after working with Baltimore-based Monarch Rubber Co. to create a rubber alternative after a conversation with famed distance runner Marty Liquori. In 1979, Turner founded American Sporting Goods, which came to acquire the Ryka, Avia and And 1 brands. He sold ASG to the former Brown Shoe Co. (bow Caleres) in 2011. Two years ago, Turner left retirement with the creation of athletic footwear brand Turner Footwear.
Turner served two years in the U.S. Army at Fort Lee Virginia. He graduated from Omaha Central High School in 1953, and earned a finance degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1960.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret Oung; his former wife, Jo-Ellen Turner; three children; six grandchildren and a step-grandchild. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Omaha, NE’s Central High School Foundation, were Turner had endowed an annual scholarship for a graduating senior attending the University of Pennsylvania.