Bruce Dayton, arts patron, department store heir and father of Gov. Mark Dayton, dies at age 97

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Bruce Dayton

Bruce Dayton, a Dayton’s Department store (now Target) heir and father of Gov. Mark Dayton, died this morning at his home in Orono. He was 97.

The governor had cleared his schedule of most official business in recent days to be with his father.

Bruce Dayton was one of five brothers who inherited the Dayton’s stores in the 1940s and built it into the giant retailer now known as Target. He was also a benefactor of the arts, particularly the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The governor’s office today said Bruce Dayton “is survived by his wife, Ruth Stricker Dayton; his four children, Mark Dayton, Brandt Dayton (Tian), Lucy Dayton (Mark O’Keefe), and Anne Dayton; two step children, Kim Griffin (Robert) and Mark Stricker; eleven grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.” 

A memorial service has been rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19, at 4:00 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church (1200 South Marquette Ave, Minneapolis).

The Star Tribune says Bruce Dayton once offered the secret to Dayton Hudson’s (and later Target’s) success, attributing it to, “harmony among the five brothers, a movement to professional management during the 1970s and a commitment to ethical corporate governance and generous corporate and individual philanthropy tied to the communities that made them wealthy.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Walt Cygan on 11/13/2015 - 02:41 pm.

    He will be missed

    Bruce Dayton was perhaps the most influential person in making the Twin Cities one of the best places to live in the country. His and his family’s influence on the Twin Cities arts, business and charitable communities cannot be overstated.

    On a personal level, I learned a lot about customer service when I worked for Dayton’s many years ago. Those lessons have stuck with me, as I have moved through my career. I also met my future wife while working at the store.

    I’ll drink a toast to Mr. Dayton’s memory tonight.

  2. Submitted by kaimay terry on 11/13/2015 - 08:03 pm.

    A GIANT among us

    Bruce Dayton’s passing is a loss to all Minnesotans. He was never in state wide elected office, but the decisions that he made and the actions that he took in over half a century have benefited and touched the lives of millions. He and his brothers made a bold move when they built the first indoor shopping centers called “malls” in America, to provide us a warm and pleasant shopping environment in the frigid winter months. Many women still recall the elegant Oval Room of a bygone era, and today’s generations have come to rely on Target to meet their daily needs. I cannot imagine a life without a trip to Target at the change of seasons.
    Through decades of careful curating and numerous generous gifts, Bruce helped to build an internationally renowned Asian art collection at the Mia. Everyday we see the wonder in children’s eyes as they stare at the fearsome galloping Tang horses or visitors from afar bending over to read the translation of a poem at the scholar’s parlor. And we all appreciate the Taihu rock in the Chinese garden outside the atrium as we sip coffee and nurse our weary feet.
    On a more personal note decades ago, Bruce and Ruth Dayton accepted my invitation to attend a CAAM Chinese Dance Theater performance. Bruce later commented that as he was watching the dancers the ancient silk scrolls came alive. Later, upon learning of the dire need of this small community-based dance school to secure a stable facility, his financial support came through in our existential moment of crisis. Since then, hundreds of young people have learned Chinese dance as part of their cultural heritage and we all are eternally grateful.
    I last saw Bruce and his beloved wife and partner Ruth at the Marsh just a few weeks ago. The healing environment of the spa rejuvenated him and there was that forever twinkle in his eyes when he waved hello. A giant in our midst forever.

  3. Submitted by Jill Curran on 11/13/2015 - 09:51 pm.

    Dayton family legacy

    The Dayton family legacy will live on and will prosper in its home state–Minnesota. I wish you all the best Governor Dayton and I’m sorry for the loss of your father, a true leader…just like you. Rest in peace Mr. Bruce Dayton.

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