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Bruce Dayton dies at age of 93

It’s Bruce Dayton was the last of five Dayton brothers in the legendary Minnesota family that became a national retailing powerhouse.

Dayton, father of Minnesota’s governor, died Friday at 97.

In partnership with his brothers, Bruce Dayton expanded the Dayton Co. from one department store their father and grandfather owned in Minneapolis into chains of nationally known stores. Today the company is owned by others as Target Corp., Minnesota’s best-known business.

Bruce Dayton’s death at his home in Orono, Minn., was announced by the office of his eldest son, Gov. Mark Dayton. Despite political differences, father and son remained close, usually sharing lunch on Sundays.

Most reactions to Dayton’s death recalled his business success and his willingness to give.

“Minnesota lost a visionary business leader and generous philanthropist today in Bruce Dayton,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said shortly after the news broke.

Target chief executive Brian Cornell reflected on one of the founders of his company.

“More than 50 years ago, the Dayton family conceived an idea that at the time was revolutionary in retail -- ‘to combine the best of the fashion world with the best of the discount world,’” Cornell wrote on the Target website.

Cornell said he took over Target when Dayton was “96 years young.”

“He truly wanted me to succeed -- he wanted Target to succeed -- but not for the reasons you might think,” Cornell said. “His focus wasn’t on protecting his legacy, but rather about furthering the commitment to community he began so many years ago. That notion is one of the Dayton family’s core philosophies: Companies’ fortunes are intrinsically linked to the health and vitality of the communities in which they operate. And Bruce understood this long before almost anyone else.”

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