Douglas Dayton | Target founder, 88

Posted: July 13, 2013

Douglas Dayton, 88, who led the transformation of a family department store into retailing giant Target Corp., has died. His wife, Wendy, confirmed his death Sunday, saying he died Friday after a long battle with cancer.

Mr. Dayton, of Wayzata, Minn., was the youngest of five sons who took over the family's Minneapolis department store from their father, George, in 1948. Douglas Dayton started working in the family business after serving in an Army infantry division in Europe during World War II, where he was injured and received a Purple Heart.

In 1960, he became the first president of Target, and within two years, the company had opened four stores in the Twin Cities suburbs.

His nephew Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement calling Mr. Dayton "an extraordinary businessman, philanthropist, and leader of our family."

Target released a statement Sunday from president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel praising Mr. Dayton's role in the company's origins. "Doug was instrumental in helping to guide the strategic direction of Dayton Hudson Corp. for many years and institutionalize the values that are at the heart of Target Corp. today," Steinhafel said.

According to an obituary prepared by his family, Mr. Dayton left the Target presidency in 1968 and returned to help run the Dayton Hudson department store company. That business eventually was consolidated into Target.

The company has expanded nationally and into Canada, and is now ranked No. 36 on the Fortune 500. The Dayton family has not been involved in its ownership or operations for a number of years. Most of the former Dayton Co. department stores are today operated by Macy's. - AP

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