PORTLAND-- Longtime Columbia Sportswear leader Gert Boyle has a company nickname of "one tough mother" that she's earned in ad campaigns and in strong business moves.
Now she's showing her softer side, as the donor who gave a $100 million gift to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.
"I went to my accountant and he told me how much I was worth and I said, 'I need to give some of it away,'" she told KGW, in her blunt style.
The 90-year old Boyle said she wanted to be in charge of where her money could help after she's gone. She had hoped to remain anonymous, but speculation led to her giving permission for OHSU to name her.
Boyle made the donation in part to honor her older sister, who died in the 1970's at the age of 62. Hildegard Landform was a scientific researcher who Boyle said was extremely gifted and mentored the current director of the Knight Cancer Institute when he decided to be a doctor.
"She had done a lot of good in her work and all I happen to be able to do is give a couple of dollars," said Boyle.
The gift will go toward the Knight Cancer Challenge. Nike Founder Phil Knight and his wife said they would match $500 million if that much could be raised by February 2016. Boyle's donation makes that much more likely to happen but about $70 million must still be raised.
Boyle shared a conversation she had with Phil Knight after making her donation. She said she told him, "I just want you to know the little old lady down the block also gives money."