Cabela’s co-founder Richard Cabela dies at 77

OMAHA, Neb. — Richard Cabela, a co-founder of outdoor outfitter Cabela’s, died Monday. He was 77.

Cabela, who went by Dick, died at his home in Sidney, where the company is based, said spokesman Joe Arterburn.

The company that sells outdoor gear and sporting goods got its start humbly in 1961 when Cabela bought $45 of fishing flies in Chicago. When the flies didn’t sell quickly at the family’s furniture store in Chappell, Neb., Cabela started selling them through the mail with his wife, Mary, and brother, Jim.

Dick Cabela’s first successful ad in Sports Afield magazine offered five free fishing flies as long as the buyer paid 25 cents shipping and handling. That led to the development of the Cabela’s catalog. Today, the company has 50 retail stores across the U.S. and Canada. Last year, it had $3.6 billion in revenue.

Current Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner said Dick and Jim Cabela made it possible for people to find quality outdoor gear no matter where they lived.

“The outdoor industry has lost an innovative thinker and a tireless supporter of wildlife and habitat conservation,” Millner said. “The business world has lost a true original, who built a business model that will be studied and emulated for years; a man who, through perseverance and hard work, achieved the American Dream.”

Dick continued to serve as Cabela’s chairman until June 2013, when he moved into a chairman emeritus role and Jim Cabela became chairman.

Dick Cabela was honored for his business accomplishments and his commitment to conservation. He was named to the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2006 and Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 1994.

Safari Club International recognized Dick Cabela in 2001 for his efforts to preserve the tradition and heritage of hunting. Cabela’s retail stores all feature displays of mounted animals and birds in different outdoor settings.

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