Target Co-Founder Bruce Dayton Passes Away

Bruce Dayton, one of five brothers who expanded Dayton Co. from a single Minneapolis department store to the nationwide big box chain known as Target, passed away on Nov. 13 at 97 years old.

Dayton was the last surviving brother — all involved in the family business — who inherited the Dayton Dry Goods department-store chain, started by their grandfather George Draper Dayton and led by their father, George N. Dayton, during the 1940s.

The company opened its first Target store, created as a discount alternative to the Dayton department store chain, in 1962. Under the Daytons’ leadership, Dayton Co. went public in 1967, with Bruce becoming company president while brother Donald became Chairman of the Board.


After presiding over the expansion of the Target brand into suburban areas in the 1970s, Dayton stepped away from day-to-day operations with the company in 1978. He officially stepped down from the Target (then Dayton-Hudson) Board of Directors in 1983.

Dayton also was a benefactor of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he was a trustee for 73 years and provided more than $80 million in financial support and more than 2,000 works of art.

“Bruce was a great man and a visionary retail and business leader,” said Brian Cornell, current Chairman and CEO of Target, in a statement. “Most importantly, he proved that you can both do good business and do good while doing business.”

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