Vans Co-Founder Dies at 72

James Van Doren guided the Vans company through the checkerboard era

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    While the shoe itself has remained the same, the styles have changed with the times.

    Vans shoes co-founder James Van Doren has died in Southern California at 72.

    The Van Doren Rubber Co.'s canvas deck shoes became favorites of the burgeoning skateboard culture because of sticky rubber soles that helped skaters grip their boards.

    They got national exposure when Sean Penn wore Vans in the 1982 movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

    Van Doren's wife, Char, tells the Los Angeles Times that her husband died at his Fullerton home on Oct. 12 after a lengthy illness. A memorial Mass is planned Friday at Fullerton's St. Juliana Falconieri Church.

    Van Doren and his older brother Paul began selling shoes in 1966.

    James Van Doren guided the Cypress, Calif., company through the checkerboard era of the deck shoes. He ran Vans from 1976 to 1984.