Don Fisher, BS 51, chairman emeritus and founder of Gap Inc., passed away Sunday, Sept. 27, at the age of 81, following a long battle with cancer. Fisher was a long-time member of the Haas Board, which advises the dean on strategic and policy innovations, and recently served as the board’s chair.
“Don believed that education is the single most important social responsibility we have,” said Dean Rich Lyons. “Don was always there for me — with advice and deep perspective. His legacy will be part of Haas forever. We will miss him greatly.”
Don and wife, Doris, Fisher gave $5 million to establish both the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Planning and the Fisher Center for the Strategic Use of Information Technology at Haas. They made several generous gifts to the Haas School’s building campaign. The Doris and Don Fisher Gate, the western entrance to our Haas campus, was named in their honor. They also gave generously to several UC Berkeley causes, most prominently the Athletics Department.
Don and Doris Fisher opened their first Gap store in 1969 on San Francisco’s Ocean Avenue. They built the company into one of the world’s leading apparel retailers, with other brands and stores including GapKids, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Fisher retired as Gap’s chairman in 2004, the year the company’s sales peaked at $16.3 billion. He remained a member of the board with the title chairman emeritus.
Fisher served on the board of trustees of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and was a director of the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco, as well as a governor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He was a member of the California State Board of Education and a director of EdVoice, KIPP Charter Public Schools, and Teach for America.
Since 2003, the Fishers have hosted the San Francisco Haas Alumni Celebration at Gap headquarters every spring, inviting the Haas community to hear thought-provoking conversations with leading-edge speakers and to enjoy the Fisher’s renowned collection of modern art, part of which is on display in the building.
In recognition of his professional achievements and support of the Haas and Berkeley , Fisher was honored in 1986 as the Haas School Alumnus of the Year and was named the California Alumni Association’s Alumnus of the Year in 2007 — the highest honor given to a graduate of UC Berkeley.
He is survived by his wife, Doris, also a great friend to the Haas School, and their three sons and ten grandchildren.