You know his shoes, but you probably don’t know Jack.

Like Stan Smith and Fred Perry, the name is better known as a shoe than as an athlete. In fact, little has been written about the Guleph, Ontario, native other than his prowess on the badminton court, where he went undefeated against the world’s best players from 1932 until his retirement in 1945. The legendary shoe he created for the B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company in 1935 was his first and last design. He became a successful stockbroker and died in 1991 at the age of 87.

Purcell was often referred to as a “great tennis player,” though it wasn’t his game, according to his son Peter. “He wasn’t big into tennis, he only played at the club level, not even local tournaments,” says Peter, who lives in Algonquin Park, Ontario, and worked alongside his dad for 40 years in three brokerage firms, including one called Jack Purcell and Company. “He was a great dad, he loved to fish and play golf, and didn’t smoke or drink.”

Peter, whose sister and three brothers also played competitive badminton in Canada, recalls that his dad received royalties from the shoe design for about 20 years, at a rate of 8 cents a pair.

Although Purcell is linked to Hollywood rebels like James Dean, his demeanor was strictly country club. He was mild mannered and wore plaid pants and golf shirts, says his granddaughter, Carrie Grant, a married mom of three who works as a unit clerk at Scarborough General Hospital in Toronto. “He always taught us to follow our dreams and do what we enjoy—‘if you love it, it will work out,’ he used to tell me.”

Originally published in the November/December 2010 issue of TENNIS.