Harry Adler, Co-Founder of The Walking Company, Dies at 89

Harry Adler, the founder of S&A Shoes, Adler Shoes and The Walking Company, died on Sept. 27, 2022, in Orange County, Calif. He was 89.

A gifted businessman with an insatiable work ethic and rugged determination, Adler was responsible for the success of multiple footwear enterprises. He got his start in the industry when he became business partners with his older brother, Stanley, to run a successful army/navy store. A few years later, Adler decided to start his own business, S&A Shoes.

In 1964, Adler relocated his business to Orange County, Calif. where he started Adler Shoes. According to his family, Adler Shoes would grow to become one of the largest family-owned shoe stores in Southern California, with over 25 locations throughout the region in operation until it closed in 1991.

Later that same year, Adler teamed up with his son, Steve, to start The Walking Company. He worked at the company until he shifted focus to the import/export business and eventually retired in 2000.

Born June 25, 1933, Adler was raised by his mother Ida in East Los Angeles. The youngest of three children, he attended Roosevelt High School where he was a member of the ROTC program and a pole vaulter. Upon graduation, Adler enlisted with the US Navy and served as a quartermaster until he left to start his own business.

While in the Navy, Adler met his wife Marsha at a USO dance. Marsha and Harry married after a short courtship, a union that lasted until his last breath 69 years later.

Family was just as important as business was to Adler. He never failed to set aside time for a family vacation, even when the family swelled to 20. Vacations included water skiing, fishing, snow skiing, scuba diving, and much more; he loved it all, his family said in a statement. “The family would gather for every holiday, birthday, and Super Bowl Sunday,” the statement said. “The Adler house was the place to be on any given weekend. Harry’s love of his family could only be surpassed by his love of gambling, ice cream, and his love for his dog, Onyx.”

Retirement did not slow Adler down. He and Marsha traveled the world together, seeing six of seven continents.

He also became an avid golfer often playing four rounds a week and was also involved in philanthropic ventures including The Special Olympics and Pet Partners. What’s more, he spent several days each week visiting local Orange County Hospitals with Onyx to help brightening the days of others. “That’s who Harry was, despite his gritty and stubborn ways, making others happy was his true passion,” the family said in a statement.

In addition to his wife, Marsha Adler, Harry is survived by his children, Michael Adler (Beth), Steven Adler (Janice), Rhonda Page (Todd), and David Adler (Carol), ten loving grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Harry is predeceased by his brother Stanley and sister Doris.

The Adler family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Special Olympics Southern California Orange County and Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program.

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