Helpern, David, 1917-2012

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Helpern, David, 1917-2012

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David Helpern was the co-owner of the Joan & David line of shoes, a company he created with his wife Joan Helpern. Joan & David popularized elegant, comfortable — and non-high-heeled — shoes for working women in the 1960s.

David Moses Helpern was born in Brookline, Mass., on Nov. 17, 1917. He graduated from Harvard in 1938. In 1960 he married Joan Marshall.

Within two decades, Joan & David, founded in Cambridge, Mass., was selling shoes and men and women’s apparel, bags and belts in about 100 outlets in the United States and Europe and grossing about $100 million. It had boutiques in the Ann Taylor retail chain and a flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York, where the company was later based.

In 2000, after five years of financial difficulties, the company sought bankruptcy protection and was sold to the Maxwell Shoe Company for $16.8 million.


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