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LANGE, Robert B.

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/109099260:60525?tid=&pid=&queryId=e751cd0b530a312680915a5c750c4152&_phsrc=HEg266&_phstart=successSource

Photo courtesy: Linwood Legacies

LANGE, Robert B. (Dubuque, IA, September 5, 1925 – June 15, 2000) Robert Brookings Lange prior to enrolling at Harvard flew a P-38 for the U.S. Air Force. It was during his time at Harvard that Lange first took a liking to skiing. His feet, extra wide and too soft, forced him into re-enforcing them with fiberglass and polyester, the first attempt into plastic boots on record.

After graduating, Lange worked at his family insurance company, LANGE INSURANCE COMPANY INC. A short time later he started his plastics company, the Lange Corporation, in the basement of the old BRUNSWICK-BALKE-COLLENDER COMPANY which failed during the GREAT DEPRESSION. In 1955 Lange received a contract from General Motors to make 30,000 fiberglass toy cars in the shape of the 1956 Corvette. In addition to the toy cars, he made other plastic products from refrigerator interiors, “chip and dip” trays, to hula-hoops. As a hobby, he experimented with fiberglass inserts for ski boots.


It was in 1958 when Lange decided to make the first boot entirely out of plastic. Beginning in his garage, the manufacturer found such success that in 1964 he moved his production into a building that eventually became part of FLEXSTEEL INDUSTRIES, INC. (1)

In 1968, the same year he went public with the company, he sold 25,000 pairs of his ski boots, moved to Broomfield, Colorado, and patented the first self-aligning swivel post for buckle in ski boots. At the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, 72% of the alpine ski competitors wore Lange boots and won five medals.

In 1972 Robert and his brothers Philo and Wells sold the company to Garcia Corporation. They worked for Garcia until 1975, but invested in Aspen International Properties which was developing a ski resort in Utah. This company went bankrupt in 1974, which may have led to the Langes filing bankruptcy in 1976. (2)


    Viola Burden LANGE



1. "Lange Brothers File for Bankruptcy," Telegraph Herald, December 1, 1976, p. 13

2. Ibid.

"Robert B. Lange," Linwood Legacies. Online: http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/robert-b-lange.html