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Trailblazer of retail, Peter Noone of Patagonia, dies at 75

With a knack for scouting the next best retail location, Noone also set the company’s high standard for hiring and customer service.

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Peter Noone of Patagonia dies at 75
Noone’s gruff exterior—most of his overtures to conversation began with a complaint—belied an uncompromising sense of honor, a sharp sense of justice, respect for the dignity of others, a readily helping hand to those in need of one, and a desert-dry sense of humor, says long-time friend, Vincent Stanley. Patagonia

Longtime Patagonia employee Peter Kinnoch Noone, who was known for his gruff exterior, sharp sense of justice, and down-to-earth style of the outdoor industry’s early days, died of recurrent cancer on July 9 at his home in Ojai, California. He was 75.

Noone’s outdoor retail career began when he was a 21-year-old downhill and cross country skier, rock climber, and fly fisherman. Desperate for money, he went looking for a summer job in 1968 on Berkeley’s University Avenue and walked into The Ski Hut. On the spot, he was hired for $2 an hour under George Rudolf, the first U. S. importer of European ski and climbing gear. 

Noone quickly rose to general manager of the store’s catalog and retail divisions until the business was sold at the end of 1982. But during that time, he and his lifelong friend Kate Larramendy created the model for the modern outdoor specialty shop by expanding offerings from hard goods and classic heavy woolen clothing to more unexpected items like snowshoe chairs, alpaca ponchos, Icelandic sweaters and colorful rugged sportswear, according to long-time friend, Vincent Stanley. 

The shop was one of Yvon Chouinard‘s favorites, Stanley said, and he hired both Noone and Larramendy when they left. It was Noone’s idea to create Patagonia’s retail presence and make the catalog the best it could be.

Noone went on to work at Patagonia for 35 years in various executive roles and as a consultant until, and through, his last illness. More informally, Stanley says, he served as trusted advisor to Malinda Chouinard, Kris Tompkins, and Rose Marcario, as well as to three generations of Patagonia employees.

Lover of the Sierras, southern Utah, and Sun Valley, Noone spent his later summers camping in an Airstream at Riverside Camp, slot 2A, within earshot of Henry’s Fork.

A celebration of Noone’s life will be held in the fall.

Donations in Peter Noone’s memory may be made to:

Henry’s Fork Foundation

Nature Conservancy Silver Creek Preserve

Ojai Raptor Center

Ojai Valley Land Conservancy