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December 05, 2023

Archery mourns the passing of Jim Easton, one of the greats of the sport

James (Jim) Easton was a colossus in the sport of archery and his passing on Monday at the age of 88 will be felt by many around the world.

“Without doubt, our sport is where it is today because of Jim Easton,” admitted USA Archery CEO Rod Menzer. “His passion, drive, vision and support will be his legacy because it is that which has given so much to so many. He will be desperately missed by all of us at USA Archery and those within the global archery community and beyond.”

Born in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 26, 1935 to archery innovators Doug and Mary Easton, he followed in the footsteps of his parents. With a strong work ethic, Jim Easton worked in his father’s archery shop by day and studied engineering at UCLA by night, which led to a five-year spell at Douglas Aircraft before returning to the family business.

Products developed by Mr. Easton transformed every sport they touched. Even after becoming president of the international governing body for archery, and a member of the International Olympic Committee, his passion for excellence drove him to spend hours per week on his company’s shop floor, improving processes and rubbing elbows with his large staff of engineers. 

Among those paying tribute to Mr. Easton were four-time Olympian Brady Ellison. A winner of two Olympic team silvers and an individual bronze, Ellison wrote on his Instagram page, “All of us who shoot Easton and play so many sports owe this man a lot. RIP Mr. Easton.”

Double Olympic gold medalist Justin Huish simply stated via Instagram, “RIP. #TeamEaston.”

Under Jim Easton, the company moved into baseball, softball, ice and field hockey, tennis, golf, cycling and many other pursuits but archery was always his dearest passion. To that end, he was credited with the earliest development of carbon fiber for archery bows and arrows.

As president of the World Archery Federation for 16 years from 1988 to 2004, Mr. Easton innovated new competition formats, making archery a television-friendly sport and one of the most-watched during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

He 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. He was a board member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and served on the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games.

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, through Easton Foundations were built numerous world-class archery centers for the advancement and teaching of the sport throughout the United States, including the Easton Archery Center of Excellence at Chula Vista in Calif, as well as the Easton Archery Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mr. Easton is survived by his wife of 29 years, Phyllis, son Greg, daughter Lynn, and three grandchildren.

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