Walking shoe pioneer Bruce Katz dies at 75

Roger Katz said his father and brother formed a balanced partnership.

“My father was a manufacturing genius; he knew where to make the original products and materials,” he said in a phone interview. “But he had no notion of marketing. My brother knew how to create a brand and a presence.

But he said they sold the business to Reebok because his father was “getting old” and his brother “really had no life” and was close to burnout.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Katz is survived by his wife, Dasa Katz, and child, Lee.

As Mr. Katz contemplated his return to the shoe business, he attended a 2013 trade show in Las Vegas, where he met Werner Wyrsch, a former Rockport executive who was about to retire.

“He said, ‘Let’s go for a walk,'” Mr Wyrsch said in a telephone interview. “He took a shoe here and a shoe there, imports from Vietnam and Cambodia, and he said, ‘This is terrible, let’s do it again. Let’s show them again how to make shoes.

Mr. Katz quickly launched Samuel Hubbard, while Mr. Wyrsch served as senior vice president of product development and sourcing. The company is something of a Rockport 2.0, with a continued focus on lightness and casual comfort, but using more luxurious European leathers and cutting-edge technology.

Roger Katz, an architect who designed a distribution center for Rockport and its first store, in Marlboro, Mass., said he wasn’t surprised his brother returned to the shoe business.

“Bruce tried a lot of effort in between, and to be honest, he didn’t have the kind of success he wanted,” he said. “He got to a point where he wanted another real hit. He was open about the fact that the only place he was really successful was in the shoes.