Following a prolonged battle with cancer, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) founder Douglas James Dayton finally succumbed to the disease in his Wayzata, MN home on Friday. Following his time in an Army infantry division in Europe during World War II, where he was injured and received a Purple Heart, Dayton returned to Minneapolis to work in the family’s department store.

Target Corporation Logo

The youngest of five sons, Dayton through his experience in the family business, sensed the threat of large retailers like Kmart to the family-owned department store model, and somewhat ironically, proved this so by forming Target and becoming its first president. For many that might read a little hypocritical, but rather than practicing his dirges and the playing of “Taps,” Dayton opened four Target locations in the Minneapolis area between 1960, when he founded the company, and 1962.

Target Corporation’s Operations

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) presently operates nearly 1,800 stores in 49 states (Vermont) and Canada which Target entered in 2013. Target presently runs over 100 stores through its Canadian subsidiary. These numbers include both Target stores and SuperTarget locations.

“Target was the best job I had,” he recalled in a May interview with the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.

On Saturday, his nephew, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, said of his uncle, “an extraordinary businessman, philanthropist, and leader of our family.”

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) is presently ranked number #36 on the Fortune 500 list. While there is little question that the world has lost both a visionary and genuinely good human being, Dayton’s work with Target was essentially limited to the founding of the company.

Dayton left Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) after a short period (eight years) as its president in 1968 to return to work at the family’s Dayton-Hudson department store parent company where he worked until leaving the company in 1974.

Dayton-Hudson department stores were ultimately incorporated into Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), and the remaining Minneapolis-based department stores are operated by Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M).

Following his departure from Dayton-Hudson, he went on to to start a venture capital firm in 1974 and retired in 1994. Following his retirement, Mr. Dayton stayed involved with a number of charities he founded and those that he worked as a board member.

“He and his brothers shared a common vision for improvement to the community, and to give back what the community had given them,” his wife Wendy Dayton said Sunday in an obituary written by the family.