Cabela’s Co-Founder Richard Cabela Dies at 77


I remember seeing a Cabela’s catalog as a kid for the first time. It was as though a world of wondrous fishing opportunities was opened. Who knew if I’d ever have the money to buy any of the magical goods inside, or have the opportunity to ever use them in exotic fishing locales, but it certainly inspired me to dream.

Dick Cabela’s dream came true and inspired many an angler and outdoorsman — practically anyone who got their hands on that catalog, or later on walked into one of the many Cabela retail stores. Richard Cabela, co-founder of Cabela’s, passed recently. My San Antonio remembers him.

cabelas_dickRichard 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 Cabelamade it possible for people to find quality outdoor gear no matter where they lived.

Photos: Texas Hill Country (top), AP (above)

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Joe Sarmiento
Joe is an avid saltwater angler. He grew up in Washington State on the south end of Puget Sound where he first started fishing as a boy catching perch, flounder, rockfish, and occasionally salmon. Today, Joe lives in Southern California where he fishes off beaches and jetties, kayaks, and sportfishing boats. Joe writes about his saltwater adventures in the SoCal Salty blog, and for Western Outdoor News.