MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Douglas Dayton, who led the transformation of a family department store into retailing giant Target Corp., has died at the age of 88.
Dayton's wife, Wendy Dayton, confirmed his death Sunday. She said the resident of Wayzata, west of Minneapolis, died Friday after a long battle with cancer.
Douglas James 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. 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.
Having worked as a store manager, Dayton sensed the threat posed by discount retailers such as 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.
"Target was the best job I had," he recalled in a May interview with the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.
His nephew, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, issued a statement calling Douglas Dayton "an extraordinary businessman, philanthropist, and leader of our family."
Target released a statement Sunday from current President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel praising integral Dayton's role in the company's origins.