Jake Burton Carpenter

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Jake Burton Carpenter
Born(1954-04-29)April 29, 1954
DiedNovember 20, 2019(2019-11-20) (aged 65)
Other namesJake Burton
Alma materUniversity of Colorado at Boulder
New York University
Donna Gaston
(m. 1983)

Jake Burton Carpenter (April 29, 1954 – November 20, 2019), also known as Jake Burton, was an American snowboarder and founder of Burton Snowboards and one of the inventors of the modern day snowboard. He grew up in Cedarhurst, New York.[1]


Carpenter's high school education began in Brooks School North Andover, Massachusetts.[2] After graduating from The Marvelwood School, at that time in Cornwall, Connecticut, he enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder. An avid skier, Carpenter hoped to join the university's ski team who were the reigning NCAA champions at the time;[3] however, his competitive skiing career ended after an automobile accident. After several years away from college, he resumed his studies at New York University, graduating with a degree in economics.

After college, Carpenter briefly worked for a small investment banking firm in Manhattan before he grew tired of the 12 hours work days. He felt the call to return to the slopes.[3] Working from a barn in Londonderry, Vermont, he improved on the Snurfer, a basic toy snowboard which featured a rope to allow the rider some basic control over the board. In his interview with NPR's "How I Built This" when initially selling his snowboards, he said, “I remember once going out with 38 snowboards, visiting dealers in New York State, and came back with 40 because one guy gave me two back he had bought.”[4] By the late-1970s, he joined a small cadre of manufacturers who had begun selling snowboards with design features such as a bentwood laminate core and a rigid binding which held the board firmly to the wearer's boot. In 1979, Jake Burton won the Open Division and a $300 prize at the National Snurfing Contest in Muskegon, Michigan.[5] Burton is credited with developing the economic ecosystem around snowboarding as a lifestyle, sport, and culture, in addition to premier board manufacturer. Burton has been one of the world's largest snowboard and snowboarding-equipment manufacturers since the late 1980s.[6]

Carpenter's wife, Donna, serves as CEO. Carpenter sees value in having women in positions of authority and leadership within the privately held company.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Carpenter resided in Stowe, Vermont, with his wife, Donna and his son, Timi. Carpenter also had two other sons, George and Taylor.

On February 17, 1967 Jake's brother, Corporal George Carpenter died serving in Vietnam. Four years later, in 1971, Jake's mother Katherine died of Leukemia leaving Jake, his father and two sisters.

Burton met his future wife Donna Gaston at a 1982 New Year's Eve party. A little over a year later they married in Greenwich Connecticut.[3]

By 1985, Jake and his wife Donna moved to Austria to create a European base; Donna focused on the distribution arm.[3] About four years later they had their first child, George Burton Carpenter, in Rutland, Vermont. Their second son, Taylor Gaston Burton Carpenter, was born in Burlington, and their third son, Timi Eaton Burton Carpenter, was born in 1996.[3]

Jake Burton Carpenter was a member of the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. Carpenter survived several health scares in his later years: knee injuries, testicular cancer, pulmonary embolism, and, notably, the Miller Fisher variant of Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare and serious neurological disorder.[6] Carpenter died November 20, 2019, in Burlington, Vermont,[7] after announcing recurrence of his cancer to Burton staff earlier in the month.[8]


  1. ^ Helmich, Portland. " Chairman of the Board", Business People Vermont, August 8, 2000. Accessed December 11, 2007. "Burton has always had a passion for sports, but concedes he was more of a "wanna-be" sportsman than a real athlete while growing up as the youngest of four children in Cedarhurst, N.Y."
  2. ^ Chamberlain, Tony. "Chairman of the Board Burton's Innovation has fostered a Snowbound Sensation", The Boston Globe, December 18, 1997.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Remembering Jake Burton Carpenter".
  4. ^ "🔊 Listen Now: Burton Snowboards: Jake Carpenter". NPR One. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  5. ^ http://www.mashf.com/Snurfing%201979.htm
  6. ^ a b c Interview: How I Built This (audio Archived 2018-02-20 at the Wayback Machine)
  7. ^ Pells, Eddie (November 21, 2019). "Jake Burton Carpenter who founded Burton snowboards dies". The Boston Globe. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  8. ^ Pells, Eddie (November 21, 2019). "Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2019.

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