DON FISHER, CO-FOUNDER, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS AND BOARD MEMBER OF GAP INC., DIES AT 81
Retail Legend Opened the First Gap Store 40 Years Ago With Wife, Doris
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SAN FRANCISCO – September 27, 2009 – Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) today announced that Donald G. Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), died today after a long and heroic battle with cancer, in San Francisco, at the age of 81.
A retail industry legend who has been often credited with inventing the specialty retail category, Mr. Fisher created one of America’s best known success stories when he opened his first Gap store 40 years ago last month. A life-long resident of San Francisco, he was equally known for his commitment to philanthropic and civic activities.
“Today we lost a friend, a mentor and a great visionary,” said Glenn Murphy, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Gap Inc. “Don and Doris took a simple idea and turned it into a brand recognized as a cultural icon throughout the world and changed the face of retail forever. We will miss him deeply, and our thoughts and prayers are with Doris and the entire Fisher family during this time.”
Mr. and Mrs. Fisher founded Gap Inc. on August 21, 1969 after a frustrating experience exchanging a pair of jeans that didn't fit. Leaving behind a career in real estate development, the then 41-year-old Fisher and his wife Doris believed that opportunities existed for a retail company that could provide consumers with a variety of fit and style options. That year, the Fishers raised $63,000 to launch a single jeans and music store called The Gap (named for "the generation gap") in San Francisco.
“My father was an inspiration to many people both in his dedication to his business and through his enthusiasm and commitment to philanthropic efforts,” said Bob Fisher, who served as Gap Inc.’s Chairman of the Board from 2004 to 2007. “On behalf of our family, we want to thank everyone who has offered their love and support. We are comforted in the knowledge that my father’s legacy will live on in the spirit and passion of the millions of people who have worked over the past 40 years for the company he founded.”
Over the last 40 years, Gap Inc. evolved from one brand into one of the largest specialty apparel retailers in the world with annual sales of approximately $14.5 billion in fiscal 2008. Today, the company offers clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies through some of the most recognized and respected brands in the apparel industry -- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. Gap Inc. operates more than 3,100 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan and Ireland.
From its inception in 1969 through 1995, Mr. Fisher held the roles of Gap Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. During this period, Gap Inc. expanded to include the Banana Republic, GapKids, babyGap, and Old Navy brands in addition to a growing international presence in the United Kingdom and Canada. In 1995, he relinquished his CEO position and retained his leadership of the Board. In 2004, he stepped down as Chairman of the Board, but continued as a company Director and executive in the role of Founder and Chairman Emeritus which he held until his death. He maintained an office at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco where he was a visible, inspiring figure.
Mr. Fisher’s life-long commitment to community involvement is reflected in his family's philanthropic and civic activities. He was actively involved with the United Way of the Bay Area. In 1977, Doris and Don Fisher started the Gap Foundation to support the local communities where Gap Inc. does business. The company supports nonprofit organizations with a focus on helping underserved youth in developed countries learn the skills needed to build a career and a future, and women in developing countries build critical life and work skills.
In addition to spearheading the company’s community outreach and philanthropic efforts, Mr. Fisher was an active member of the San Francisco community, where he dedicated himself to art and education– two of his greatest passions.
Mr. Fisher served on the Boards of Trustees of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – and recently had just signed and announced a pioneering agreement with the museum which would provide the Fisher Collection – one of the world’s leading private collections of contemporary art – with a home upon completion of SFMOMA's planned expansion.
Mr. Fisher, along with his wife, Doris, was very committed to education. In 2000, the couple made a pledge of $15 million to create the KIPP Foundation, a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities. This donation and subsequent funding from the Fishers would become the engine to train school leaders and open more than 80 schools across the country supporting 20,000 children. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher have provided $100 million in financial support for KIPP and Teach for America, an organization which also focuses on bringing equal education opportunity and success to students in low-income communities.
In addition, Mr. Fisher was a member of the Advisory Board of EdVoice, an education advocacy organization and was involved in the Committee on Jobs Executive Committee in San Francisco.
He was a former member and Chairman of the University of California's Haas School of Business Advisory Council, and served on both Stanford University's Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and Princeton University's Board of Trustees. At the time of his death, he was on the board of directors for The Charles Schwab Corporation.
A third-generation San Franciscan, Mr. Fisher graduated from Lowell High School and attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he was an all-American swimmer and water polo player.
In addition to his wife, Doris, Mr. Fisher is survived by his sons and their wives, Bill and Sako, John and Laura and Bob and Randi, and ten grandchildren. He is also survived by two brothers and their wives, Jim and Diane Fisher and Bob and Ann Fisher.
His son, Bob, is a 30 year veteran of Gap Inc. and continues to serve on the company’s Board of Directors. His wife, Doris, serves as an honorary lifetime member of the Board.
Memorial services will be private.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations are made to the KIPP Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco
55 Hawthorne Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94105
135 Main Street, Suite 1700
San Francisco, CA 94105
About Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. is a leading global specialty retailer offering clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta brand names. Fiscal 2008 sales were $14.5 billion. Gap Inc. operates more than 3,100 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan and Ireland. In addition, Gap Inc. is expanding its international presence with franchise agreements in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com.