NEW YORK-Target Co-founder Bruce Dayton, one of the first department store leaders to launch a discount division, died on Friday November 16, 2015 in Orono, Minn. He was 97.


Dayton, former CEO of Dayton-Hudson, was the last of the five grandsons of George Dayton, who founded retailer Dayton Co, which evolved into Target Corp. He retired from the Dayton-Hudson board in 1983.

Dayton firmly believed in corporate social responsibility, said Target CEO Brian Cornell. From its founding, Target gave 5 percent of its profits back to the community.

“When I joined this storied company, many people offered ideas and advice, but at 96 years young, Bruce Dayton’s words were perhaps the most profound,” Cornell wrote on the company’s website on Friday. “He truly wanted me to succeed—he wanted Target to succeed—but not for the reasons you might think. His focus wasn’t on protecting his legacy, but rather, about furthering the commitment to community he began so many years ago. That notion is one of the Dayton family’s core philosophies: Companies’ fortunes are intrinsically linked to the health and vitality of the communities in which they operate. And Bruce understood this long before almost anyone else.

“Bruce’s record of achievement is remarkable: building the first indoor shopping mall, pioneering the concept of discount retail, founding a company that would become one of the largest private-sector employers in the world. But as much as I am in awe of Bruce’s accomplishments, it is his legacy of generosity that I will always remember the most.”

In July, Douglas Dayton, the other co-founder and first president of Target, died. He was 88. The first Target store opened in 1962.

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