An entrepreneur and engineer, Karl Lopker, the cofounder of Deckers and QAD, died at age 66 on August 25. His wife, Pamela Meyer Lopker, made the announcement on Sunday, stating, “Karl bravely fought a 13-year battle with stage 4 prostate cancer. He has no regrets for his life well lived.” Meyer and Lopker created QAD in 1979 while searching for software to run Deckers, a shoe company Lopker had formed.
Lopker started Deckers Corporation in 1975 with Doug Otto after Lopker’s “Driftwood Dan” neoprene sandals ran away with the competition. He had started off making leather bags and sandals as a way to get through UCSB, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. With a friend, he’d sold the leather goods at craft fairs across the country from a Volkswagen van. Lopker continued making his “Styled Steer” leather goods out of a space in Goleta until he hit on the “decks” of black neoprene sandwiching a brightly colored center to create the popular surf-friendly flip-flop.
Lopker stayed with Deckers until 1982, when he left to become CEO at Meyer’s company, which now makes planning software for manufacturers worldwide. The two — Meyer is also a UCSB grad, in mathematics and economics — endowed the first chair in computer science at UCSB’s College of Engineering in 2005 to recruit young faculty members.
By 1981, Lopker and Meyer had married, and they had two children, Karl Bo and Juliana Lynn, “his greatest source of joy and happiness,” Meyer wrote. Family time was shared with many friends, including trips to Mammoth Lakes to snowboard and the “Lopker Easter Day Annual Scavenger Hunt,” with its intricate set of clues concocted by Karl Lopker.
“Everyone who met Karl enjoyed his larger-than-life personality,” Meyer wrote. He was “smart, strong-willed, resourceful, clever, competitive, fun. … His presence filled the room and his booming laugh will always be fondly remembered.”
A celebration of Karl Lopker’s life takes place on September 29 at 11 a.m. at QAD’s campus on Ortega Hill.