Donald G. Fisher, who founded Gap, Inc. in 1969 with wife Doris, died yesterday of cancer. He was 81. “Today we lost a friend, a mentor, and a great visionary,” said Gap CEO Glenn Murphy in a statement issued last night. “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.”
Legend has it that the Fishers founded the company on August 21, 1969 after a frustrating experience exchanging a pair of jeans that didn’t fit. That year, the couple raised $63,000 to launch a single jeans and music store called The Gap (named for “the generation gap”) in San Francisco. In 2008, Gap reported annual sales of approximately $14.5 billion. Fisher served as chairman and CEO of the company from 1969 through 1995 and as chairman through 2004. He held the roles of director and chairman emeritus until his death.