Flags will be flown at half mast in San Francisco to honor Donald G. Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., who died today after a long battle with cancer at the age of 81.
Mr. Fisher, a lifelong San Franciscan, co-founded Gap Inc. with his wife Doris in 1969. He was also known worldwide as a philanthropist and avid art collector.
“Don Fisher was a great San Franciscan, a loving husband and father, and a dear friend,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “His unwavering commitment to our city’s arts and civic culture will be remembered for generations to come.”
A third-generation San Franciscan, Mr. Fisher left a career in real-estate development to open a “jeans and music store” after a frustrating experience exchanging a pair of jeans that didn’t fit, according to a company statement. The Fishers named their first Gap store, on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, for “the generation gap.”
Forty years later, Gap Inc. operates more than 3,100 stores in six countries, with annual sales of about $14.5 billion in fiscal year 2008, the company said. Gap Inc. brands also include Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta.
As the company grew, the Fishers formed Gap Foundation, which has given more than $100 million to nonprofit groups and causes over the past three decades. The Fishers have also donated more than $100 million to educational-reform organizations including the Knowledge is Power Program and Teach for America.
The Fishers also amassed a collection of more than 1,100 pieces of contemporary art, many of which will be displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art following the museum’s expansion next year.
Mr. Fisher’s son, Bob, who has previously served as Gap Inc.’s chairman, thanked friends, Gap employees and community members for their support on behalf of the Fisher family.
“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,” Bob Fisher said in a statement.
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. Mr. Fisher is also survived by two brothers and their wives, Jim and Diane Fisher and Bob and Ann Fisher.
The family is planning a private memorial service, and asks that donations be made to the KIPP Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.