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Target’s Co-Founder, First President Dies At 88

Douglas James Dayton in 1968

Mr. Douglas James Dayton, who led the transformation of his family’s department store into Target Corp., lost a long battle with cancer Friday. He was 88 years old.

The Associated Press reports that Mr. Dayton was the youngest of George Nelson Dayton’s five sons who took over the family’s downtown Minneapolis department store from their father in 1948. Mr. 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.

“Having worked as a store manager, Mr. Dayton sensed the threat of discount retailers like Kmart. In 1960, he became the first president of Target, and within two years, the company had opened four Target stores in the Twin Cities suburbs,” the AP says.

Mr. Dayton left the Target presidency in 1968 and returned to help run the Dayton-Hudson department store parent company. That business eventually was consolidated into Target Corp.

The AP reports 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’s department stores in Minnesota are today operated by Macy’s.

Mr. Dayton left the company in 1974 and formed a venture capital firm, the AP says. He retired in 1994 but remained active in a number of charitable and philanthropic groups.

In the featured photo at top is Mr. Douglas James Dayton in 1968.


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