Bruce R. Katz, a longtime downtown Mill Valley resident and the founder of both the Rockport Shoe Company and Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company, passed away on June 26, after suffering injuries from a fall at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., according to Footwear News. He was 75.
Born in Newton, Mass. on Feb. 17, 1947, Katz was the third generation of a family shoemaking legacy that began with his grandfather Samuel J. Katz, who founded the first Hubbard Shoe Company in 1930, and his father Saul L. Katz who was the co-founder with Bruce of The Rockport Company, Footwear News reported.
Katz’s largest entrepreneurial endeavor was the Rockport Shoe Company, which he co-founded with his father Saul in 1971, according to Footwear News. Rockport was the first shoe company to put lightweight, cushioned orthotic elements and athletic technology into traditional footwear. RocSports, as they were called, became a huge success and kicked off the development of a new category of footwear – walking shoes.
As the walking shoe category became a $1 billion success, Katz sold Rockport to Reebok in 1986. He spent the next 15 years exploring the world by sea, while also running multiple software and internet ventures. In 2013, Katz returned to footwear with the launch the Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company. After a trip to the Platform shoe trade show in Las Vegas, Katz teamed up with Werner Wyrsch, who had served as VP of sourcing for Rockport, to launch the company with just four styles that year.
In a statement, Noah Wheeler, CEO of Samuel Hubbard, spoke on Katz’s passing: “Working with Bruce over the past six years has been a continual master class in shoemaking. While we are heartbroken to lose him, our team will continue Bruce’s extraordinary shoemaking legacy. The upcoming introduction of the Performance Walker is the ultimate shoe Bruce dreamed of. It will honor his genius and is a comforting reminder that he is still on his journey with us.”
Katz is survived by his wife, Dasa, their only child Lee, brother Roger Katz, sister-in-law Karolynn Flynn and their children Abbi Hunter and Connor Katz. Plans for a celebration of life will be announced at a later date.