MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota remembers business legend Bruce Dayton, who passed away at his home Friday at the age of 97.
He was the last of the Dayton brothers who grew Dayton’s Department Store into the Target Corporation. And he is the father of Minnesota’s governor, Mark Dayton.
Every object in the vast Chinese collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is world class. And almost every one came from Dayton.
“He really changed the face and nature of this institution,” Matthew Welch, MIA’s deputy director and chief curator, said.
Dayton sat on the institute’s board of directors for 73 years, famously donating tens of millions of dollars and thousands of art pieces from his own collections — including ancient artifacts and classic paintings.
“It was his approach to business where he felt, I think fervently, that business should foster the community,” Welch said.
That business was Dayton’s department stores. Dayton and his brothers grew the business into an iconic Minnesota institution. He developed Southdale, the nation’s first indoor shopping mall. And then he created the discount retail chain called Target in 1962.
Retail consultant Jim McComb worked for Dayton beginning in 1968, witnessing Target’s remarkable launch in the early years.
“For a company that was created in 1962 in a small Midwestern market, to evolve into being a national retailer,” McComb said.
Dayton’s health was declining at one of his last public appearances, the second gubernatorial inauguration of Mark Dayton in 2014.
“Dad, you have been a guiding light throughout my life. I would not be standing here today without your love and support. Thank you,” Mark Dayton said.
Despite his wild success, the people who knew Dayton best call him “a quintessential Minnesotan.”
“He was very quiet, very retiring and very kind,” Welch said.
Dayton’s department stores made philanthropy part of the business model, donating 5 percent of store profits to charity. Target Corp. continues the tradition today.