San Francisco Donald G. Fisher, who co-founded Gap, died on Sunday at age 81 after a long battle with cancer.
Fisher and his wife Doris opened the first Gap in 1969 in San Francisco, after running into difficulties finding jeans that fit. They named the store after the idea of "The Generation Gap" and sold jeans and music, to appeal to a younger crowd.
"Today we lost a friend, a mentor and a great visionary," Glenn Murphy, CEO and chairman of Gap said in a statement. "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."
National Retail Federation CEO Tracy Mullin said Fisher's true entrepreneurship permeated everything he did, and was part of the reason Gap became such a great global brand.
"It feels like the end of an era in a way," Mullin said, in an Associated Press report. "He really was unique in many ways and people really liked him."
Fisher was also widely recognized for his commitment to philanthropy and the arts. The Fishers' personal art collection is renowned and includes some of the 20th century's most well-known artists. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced Friday it was partnering with the Fishers to house the couple's some 1,100 works to create one of the nation's greatest art collections.
Fisher was also a charter school advocate, and active in United Way, Teach for America and other educational efforts. The Fishers gave $15 million in 2000 to create the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation, a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools to serve students in underserved communities.
Fisher is survived by his wife Doris, their three sons and 10 grandchildren. His son Bob Fisher continues to serve on Gap's board of directors and Doris serves as an honorary lifetime member of the board.