Jerry Turner, who is credited with transformating the athletic shoe business during his 60-year career, died in his sleep Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Turner was the founder of American Sporting Goods Corp., and led Brooks in the 1960s and 1970s, helping turn the brand into a recognizable name and a major player. Peers credit Turner with inventing the stability running category and introducing the first Brooks shoe to use EVA material in 1975. Two years later, the executive launched the varus wedge, which helped runners who grappled with overpronation.
“We are saddened by the passing of Jerry, a footwear industry great,” said Brooks CEO Jim Weber. “He was an innovator during the 1970s running boom, and his fingerprints are all over the rich history of the brand. His dedication to solving runners’ needs resulted in many technical innovations that continue to influence our products today. We will be forever grateful for the time, talent and passion he gave to Brooks.”
After his time at Brooks, Turner launched American Sporting Goods, which developed the Turntec running shoe brand and Nevados hiking line. Later, the company acquired the Avia, And1 and Ryka brands.
In 2011, Turner sold ASG to Caleres, which was then known as Brown Shoe Co. While the executive stayed on the sidelines for a few years, he emerged from retirement in 2017 to launch Turner Footwear, a performance footwear company with the tagline “Legends Evolve.”
He was inducted into the FN Hall of Fame in 1993.
Turner is survived by his wife, Margaret Oung, his former wife Jo-Ellen Turner and three children as well as a stepdaughter and six grandchildren.