July 26, 2019: William Wolff, former president of Wolff Shoe Co., St. Louis, Mo., has died at the age of 94 of natural causes. Wolff served in this role for decades, until succeeded by his son, Gary Wolff. As the son of the company’s founder, he began running the business in the 1940s, overseeing seven domestic factories. He later spearheaded the company’s transition to overseas manufacturing in Italy, Spain and China. Today, the company, which produces the Van Eli and Sesto Meucci labels, is run by Gary’s son, S. Todd Wolff.
Wolff is survived by his son Gary, daughter-in-law Sherry, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
July 1, 2019: Fashion designer Khalid Al Qasimi, born Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasim, has passed away at the age of 39.
The son of the ruler of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Qasimi founded and served as creative director of his eponymous brand, Qasimi, debuting his first collection in 2008. He completed degrees in both architecture and fashion design at Central Saint Martins.
A three-day mourning ceremony has been declared, with flags in the country ordered to fly half-mast in honor of the designer.
May 26, 2019: Duncan Finigan, global head of brand management and marketing at Oofos, has died after a battle with breast cancer. She was 59.
Finigan launched her career at Reebok International as a marketing intern upon graduating from Boston College, where she earned a degree in business. Over the next 16 years, she was tasked with leading strategic brand and marketing initiatives for nine footwear categories, eventually being named VP of the performance division.
Duncan left Reebok in 2000 to serve as VP of brands at Atsco Footwear Group. In 2004, she went on to become GM of wholesale at Stride Rite.
She is survived by her husband, four sons, three brothers and three sisters. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Duncan’s Pan Mass Challenge for the benefit of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at 77 4th Ave., Needham, Mass., 02494.
Jan. 30, 2019: Rudolph V. Schoenecker, whose career spanned both retail and wholesale, has died at 82.
He began his career as president of Carl A. Biwer and Westowne Shoes Inc., which operated 13 family shoe stores and leased departments and Naturalizer locations. He went on to serve as president of the Northwest Shoe Retailers Association, holding the post from 1984 to 1990.
Upon retiring, Schoenecker returned to the industry from 1995 to 2006 as an account representative for Ros Hommerson, covering the Northern U.S. market.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, six children and 12 grandchildren.
Memorials in honor of Schoenecker can be made to Marquette University High School in Milwakuee, Angels Grace Hospice in Oconomowoc, Wis., and the Two Ten Footwear Foundation.
March 4, 2018: Earl L. “Buddy” Katz, chairman of Encore Shoe Corp. and manufacturer for Zodiac USA, passed away in his sleep at 99.
Katz got his start in the industry as a footwear buyer for his battalion during his service with the U.S. Army in World War II. Following the war, Jack Sandler from the New England shoe manufacturer Sandler of Boston asked him if he wanted to go into the shoe business.
Katz went on to start Encore Shoe Corp. in 1962, making shoes for labels such as Pappagallo and Capezio. He eventually started his own brand, Zodiac USA, a company which would later become a pioneer in placing computerized decorative Western stitching on boots.
The family suggests that donations in Katz’s memory be made to the Two Ten Footwear Foundation or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
Katz is survived by his children — James Katz, Ronald Katz and Jody Skaff — as well as his beloved grandchildren.