NEWARK, Del. (AP) – Robert W. Gore, whose invention of what created the breathable but still waterproof fabric known as Gore-Tex revolutionized outdoor wear and helped use caviar in many other areas, has died. He was 83 years old.
Gore, who has been president of WL Gore & Associates for nearly 25 years and chairman of the company for 30 years, died Thursday at a family home in Maryland after a long illness, company spokesman Amy Calhoun confirmed.
Gore discovered a new form of polymer in 1969 at the company̵
The son realized that by stretching the PTFE with a sudden pull, the polymer expanded by 1000%. The resulting product, known as ePTFE, creates a microporous structure. The introduction of Gore-Tex technology came seven years later.
“It really was a turning point in the company’s history,” said Greg Hannon, chief technology officer at WL Gore & Associates, last year. “Without which we would be much less important than an organization than we are today.”
The membrane in Gore-Tex fabric has billions of pores that are smaller than water droplets, resulting in waterproof but breathable raincoats, shoes and other clothing. Eventually, the patents led to countless other applications with medical devices, guitar strings and space travel, the company said.
Gore was born in Utah, the eldest of the five children of Bill and Vive Gore, who both founded the company in 1958. Bill Gore had previously joined the DuPont workforce and eventually came to Delaware.
Bob Gore earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and an advanced degree from the University of Minnesota. He succeeded his father as president and CEO of the company in 1976. Gore and his family contributed funds to buildings and engineering laboratories at the University of Delaware.
Gore is survived by his wife Jane, as well as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial plans were not immediately announced by the company.
The story is corrected by saying that Gore died in Maryland, not Delaware.