Columbia's history starts with Gert's parents, Paul and Marie Lamfrom, when they fled Germany in 1937. They bought a small hat distributorship in Portland, Oregon, and named it Columbia Hat Company, after the river bordering the city. Soon frustrated by poor deliveries from suppliers, the Lamfroms decided to start manufacturing products themselves. In 1948, Gert married college sweetheart Neal Boyle, who joined the family business and later took the helm of the growing company. When Neal suddenly died of a heart attack in 1970, Gert enlisted help from Tim, then a college senior. After that, it wasn't long before business really started to take off. Columbia was one of the first companies to make jackets from waterproof/breathable fabric. They introduced the breakthrough technology called the Columbia Interchange System, in which a shell and liner combine for multiple wearing options. In the early 1980s, then 60-year-old Gert began her role as "Mother Boyle" in Columbia's successful and popular advertising campaign.