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San Franciscans honor Donald Fisher, GAP co-founder

Internationally-known businessman, philanthropist died Sunday

Flags flew at half-staff in San Francisco yesterday to honor Donald G. Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., who died Sunday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 81.

Mr. Fisher, a lifelong San Franciscan, co-founded Gap Inc. with his wife Doris in 1969. He was also known worldwide as a philanthropist and avid art collector.

"Don Fisher was a great San Franciscan, a loving husband and father, and a dear friend," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. "His unwavering commitment to our city's arts and civic culture will be remembered for generations to come."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement regarding the death of Mr. Fisher:

"Maria and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Don Fisher. He was a confident, passionate and well-liked businessman who, with the help of his wife, Doris, built the company, Gap Inc., from the ground up.

"Don's passion also extended beyond business and into the Bay Area where he was an active philanthropist who advocated for a wide variety of issues including education, the arts and the environment. He treated people with respect and worked to make a significant impact in his community, making it a better place for people to live, grow and prosper.

"Don's work will have a lasting impact and he will be greatly missed. On behalf of all Californians, we send our deepest condolences to Don's family, friends and to the community he loved so much."

A third-generation San Franciscan, Mr. Fisher left a career in real-estate development to open the first Gap store, on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco.

Forty years later, Gap Inc. operates more than 3,100 stores in six countries, with annual sales of about $14.5 billion in fiscal year 2008, the company said. Gap Inc. brands also include Banana Republic and Old Navy.

As the company grew, the Fishers formed Gap Foundation, which has given more than $100 million to nonprofit groups and causes over the past three decades. The Fishers have also donated more than $100 million to educational-reform organizations including the Knowledge is Power Program and Teach for America.

"Don's work will have a lasting impact and he will be greatly missed," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "On behalf of all Californians, we send our deepest condolences to Don's family, friends and to the community he loved so much."

The Fishers also amassed a collection of more than 1,100 pieces of contemporary art, many of which will be displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art following the museum's expansion next year.

Mr. Fisher is survived by his wife Doris, three sons and their wives, and ten grandchildren. The family is planning a private memorial service.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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