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Gap co-founder Donald Fisher dies at 81

September 27, 2009 |  3:15 pm


I just got word from Gap Inc. that Donald Fisher, who co-founded the company with his wife, Doris, 40 years ago last month, passed away today at age 81 after a long battle with cancer.

The Fishers founded the company on Aug. 21, 1969, as a single shop on Ocean Avenue* [UPDATED 9/27/09 4:11 PM] in San Francisco selling jeans and records. They named it "The Gap" (a reference to the generation gap).

The company has since grown to include the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta brands, with sales of about $14.5 billion in fiscal 2008.  

Fisher served as chief executive of the company until 1995, after which he served as chairman until 2004. From 2004 until his death, he remained a company director and executive in the role of founder and chairman emeritus.

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 10 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, and 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 be made to the KIPP Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photo: Donald Fisher, Gap Inc.'s co-founder, chairman emeritus and board member, in 2003.

*[UPDATED: An earlier version of this post listed the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets as the location of the first Gap store. The first store opened on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco on Aug. 21, 1969.]