You might not know the name Jim Easton — but you’ve probably used a sports product he helped create.
Born James L. Easton, Jim was the second-generation owner of the Easton sports equipment companies, following in the footsteps of his father, James D. Easton. His contributions to the world of archery and sports equipment manufacturing were “immeasurable,” said Ugur Erdener, his successor as president of the World Archery Federation.
After many decades at the forefront of the industry, Easton died peacefully in his sleep Monday, according to World Archery. He was 88.
“Jim’s contributions to archery, the Olympic movement, the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and the numerous events, business and philanthropic endeavors he volunteered his time towards were immeasurable,” Erdener said in an obituary. “His legacy of innovation, particularly in making archery more spectator-friendly, set the foundation for the success the sport enjoys today.”
Sports Equipment Icon
Jim Easton’s life was marked by a profound dedication to the sport of archery, unwavering support for the Olympic movement, and a lasting legacy of innovation and excellence, according to multiple tributes to his memory.
His journey into the world of archery came from his family, but Jim’s passion for the sport remained strong his entire life. In 1960, he officially joined the family business, then known as James D. Easton, Inc., located in Van Nuys, Calif. Jim’s father, James, had introduced the world’s first aluminum arrow in 1922, which became an instant success.
Jim, however, quickly diversified the company, expanding into various sporting goods industries, including skiing, golf, softball, tennis, hockey, and cycling. But perhaps no impact was greater than on baseball.
Jim presided over the company’s introduction of the now-iconic aluminum baseball bats in 1969. Although the company didn’t invent the aluminum bat, “Easton developed the technology that made them a viable product,” according to Abbey Archery. The Green Easton model became “the most iconic bat ever,” Baseball America wrote.
Easton Sports reintroduced the model in 2020.
An Enormous Impact on Archery
Yet, Jim’s impact on competitive archery was no less substantial: “Few people have had more of an impact upon our sport of archery in the modern era than Jim Easton,” wrote the Archery Hall of Fame.
Under his leadership of international archery organizations, the sport underwent substantial modernization.
Jim introduced matchplay competition formats and established the federation’s first professional office during his tenure as the president of World Archery from 1989 to 2005. His dedication to the Olympic movement led to his membership in the International Olympic Committee in 1994. Later, he served as vice president from 2002 to 2006.
Jim’s commitment to archery and sports extended beyond the professional realm.
In 2007, he created the Easton Foundations, dedicated to the development of archery centers and educational outreach. Among other programs, the organization supports physically challenged youth by teaching them how to shoot a bow and arrow. Jim’s philanthropy also led to the creation of many archery training centers, including the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center in South Dakota — the largest in the world.
Jim is survived by his wife, Phyllis Easton, and his two children, Greg and Lynn. Greg Easton continues to lead the Easton companies.
A private memorial service is planned for the family, and the flag at the World Archery Excellence Centre in Lausanne will fly at half-staff in honor of Jim’s memory.
“As we bid farewell to a visionary leader, let us honor Jim Easton’s contributions and celebrate a life lived with passion, purpose, and an unwavering commitment to making a difference,” said his obituary in Departed Times. “His legacy will continue to inspire and shape the future of sports and philanthropy, a testament to the greatness of a remarkable individual.”