Earlier this week the world lost a caring person, an innovator who made a major impact on the promotion of running, and a wonderful and constant friend for 45 years.
Out of nowhere he came. I was running easily in the lead of the weekly company relay run at US Navy Officer Candidate School in July 1966 when I heard footsteps behind. This wasn't a football player making his last 40 yard dash of the day, but a skinny guy like me--I was suddenly in a race. The lead changed several times and then my final acceleration to the finish seemed to do the trick when he came back at the finish line. Who was this guy?
Geoff Hollister and I never resolved who won that race but we became friends for life, instantly. We stayed in touch during our college running career, our Navy tours, through the 1972 Olympic Trials, when I stayed with his family. Geoff was at least as proud as I when I qualified for the US team.
Geoff kept me apprised of his work with his mentor, Bill Bowerman, on shoes and training programs. He was Steve Prefontaine's mentor, and inspired me to open my Phidippides running store in 1973. Listed as the 3rd employee at NIKE, he has been recognized as one of the prime energy and creative sources behind this tiny and struggling 1960-era company's rise to become the world's powerhouse in running and sports equipment.
Hollister searched for quality people and invited them into his projects. He tended to bring out the best in those with whom he worked. His ideas had power but he built a human network, in his quiet, behind-the-scenes style that produced results. He documented this journey in his interesting autobiography, Out Of Nowhere.
During the 1990s, he shifted focus into documentary and movie production. He was technical director for the Hollywood Pictures movie PREFONTAINE, and a number of highly acclaimed documentaries on Bill Bowerman and others. His latest production "There is No Finish Line" tells the inspiring story of Joan Benoit, winner of the first women's Olympic marathon.
Nine years ago, out of nowhere, Geoff was diagnosed with cancer. While receiving extensive treatment, he continued to work on projects, traveling the world, telling the NIKE story. He and his amazing wife Wendy joined the extended Galloway family in September to celebrate the wedding of our son Westin. We stayed in close touch until earlier this week when he lost the battle. His ideas and his gentle, positive spirit continue to inspire those of us who knew him, to be the best we can be.
-Jeff (Friend of Geoff)