Katherina "Kathe" Dassler was the former president of Adidas and the wife of Adidas founder Adolf Dassler. Katherina Dassler was born in 1917, and her maiden name was Katherina Martz. Katherina was the daughter of a shoe designer named Franz Mertz. Adolf Dassler had business interests that included Franz Mertz, and that was how he came to meet Katherina in 1934; they married on the 17th of March, 1937. Katherina and Adolf had five children: Horst, Brigitte, Inge, Sigrid and Karin.
While Katherina Dassler was a loyal and busy housewife, she also played an important role in the development of Adidas. While Adolf Dassler is generally credited with being a genius of design, he had assistance in managing his company: first from his brother Rudolf, and secondly from his wife Kathe and son Horst. It is generally accepted that Katherina Dassler was the general manager of Adidas in it's early years, and that she "took care of everything around it"; including the vital role of signing athletes to wear and endorse Adidas products.
When Adolf Dassler died in 1978, Katherina Dassler took over control of Adidas; assisted by her son Horst Dassler and son-in-law Alf Bente. It is another sign of her importance in helping to 'shape' Adidas, that she, instead of Horst, became the president of Adidas when Adolf died. One of the most important decisions Katherina Dassler took, while president of Adidas, was to focus on casualwear fashion rather than sports equipment. Her decision helped Adidas to increase sales to 3.7 billion marks per year.
Katherina Dassler died on New Year's Eve, 1984, and the cause of her death was a heart attack. Horst Dassler became the president of Adidas upon her death. Horst Dassler died suddenly in 1987. The Dassler family descendants who inherited Adidas decided to make Adidas a public company and to sell their shares. By 1991, Adidas was no longer owned and controlled by the Dassler family; therefore, the Adidas Dassler era lasted from 1949-1987.