When James Van Doren and his brother Paul decided to take their Van Doren Rubber Co. sneaker samples and sell them to the public, the Southern California skateboard scene took notice. A few years and a Fast Times at Ridgemont High cameo later, and Vans has established itself as manufacturers of some of the premier skate shoes of our lifetime.

Sadly, we learned that the mastermind behind that thick rubber sole shoe, James passed away Oct. 12 after a longtime battle with illness at his Fullterton, CA home. He was 72.

James led the company through the checkerboard era, so his legacy will forever be plastered on feet across the world. Kick, push and pay homage! [LA Times]