Gary Loomis receives Centralia Distinguished Alumni Award


The Centralia Alumni Association awarded Gary Loomis, 1960 Centralia graduate with a legacy in the fishing industry and environmental advocacy, with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award on Tuesday.

Loomis stepped out onto the court at halftime during Tuesday night’s swamp cup game to accept the award.

Loomis spearheaded a quantum shift in the fishing rod business by embracing the use of graphite in 1973, recruiting an engineer to develop the first graphite rod and setting a precedent for innovation in the fishing industry.

“From that moment forward, Gary Loomis became the go-to figure for emerging materials, earning him the title of the ‘godfather of graphite,’” the Centralia Alumni Association stated.

His expertise extended beyond fishing, with Loomis contributing to the design of graphite tubes for the military and for science labs, air ducts for the Boeing 777, arrows and more.

Beyond the realm of materials and design, Loomis played “a crucial role” in establishing chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Centralia Alumni Association.

Loomis’ advocacy has led to significant changes, including the relocation of commercial fishing off of the Columbia River mainstem and the adoption of less harmful nets by gillnetters to protect wild fish.

Reflecting on his career, Loomis said, “It’s never been how much money I could make. It’s been how good of a product I could make and how well I treat my employees.”