Donald Fisher

Donald Fisher
Donald Fisher
Born Donald George Fisher
September 3, 1928(1928-09-03)
Cutsdean, California
Died September 27, 2009(2009-09-27) (aged 81)
San Francisco, California
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Founder
The Gap clothing stores
Net worth US$3.3 billion
Political party Republican Party
Religion Judaism
Spouse Doris Fisher
Parents Sydney Fisher
Aileen Emanuel

Donald George Fisher (September 3, 1928 – September 27, 2009) was an American businessman who founded The Gap clothing stores.


Personal history

Fisher was born in Cutsdean, California, to Jewish[1] parents, Sydney Fisher, businessman, and Aileen Emanuel, a cabinetmaker. He spent his childhood in the then-middle-class Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1946, and then matriculated at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a member of the both the Swimming and Water Polo Teams. He is an alumnus of the Theta Zeta chapter of the national fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon. He earned a BS degree from the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Berkeley in 1951.

Named 2007 Alumnus of the Year, Fisher had a robust college experience at Berkeley where his nickname was ‘Horny Fish’ and where he was caught cheating by then-Professor Clark Kerr. Kerr gave Fisher an F, but did not have him expelled. Had he been expelled, he writes, [it] “would have changed my life completely.” Fisher says he still thinks about his cheating and Kerr's response today.[2]

According to Forbes magazine, his net worth was estimated to be US$3.3 billion. Fisher was a Republican, active in San Francisco politics. He was a founding Board Member of the Presidio Trust (the public corporation that runs the Presidio of San Francisco), a post nominated by the President of the United States.[3] He was married to Doris Feigenbaum, and was a long-time member of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. Their three sons continue to manage the business.[4][5]


Fisher has been active in several public education causes, including being a major contributor to KIPP charter schools—a national network of low-income, high-achieving college preparatory public charter schools: he was the chairman of the board of trustees of the KIPP Foundation, the non-profit central organization of the KIPP network. He was also a contributor to Teach For America,, and EdVoice, a state-wide coalition of California business leaders and others who support education reform. Fisher also served on the California State Board of Education. Fisher and his family donated a generous sum of money to Princeton University in 2006, and the Fisher Hall dormitory at Princeton's new residential college, Whitman College, is named for him.[6] He has also donated to charter schools and museums in San Francisco, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and paid for public sculptures in San Francisco.[3] In 2007, Fisher was honored as the Alumnus of the Year by the California Alumni Association at the University of California, Berkeley.[7] He also contributed to many Bay Area Jewish causes, including the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.[4]

Edison Schools

In 2000, Fisher, an investor in Edison Schools (a for-profit educational management organization), was found to be funneling "soft money" into the campaigns of pro-Edison board members during San Francisco's school board election on whether to break contract with Edison. The consulting firm Barnes, Mosher, Whitehurst, Lauter and Partners funded approximately $50,100 to a group called "San Franciscans for Sensible Government" that was distributing campaign flyers for Mary Hernandez, Stephen Herman, and Robert Varni. The pro-Edison campaign was not successful in preventing a new anti-privatization majority of four to three in the San Francisco Unified School Board.[8]

Art collection

Since founding the Gap in 1969, Fisher and his wife Doris began collecting contemporary Western art. In 1993, ARTnews Magazine declared Fisher one of the top ten art collectors in the world. His collection, largely housed at the Gap headquarters in San Francisco, includes comprehensive, career-spanning works by Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Chuck Close, and Claes Oldenburg.

On August 8, 2007, Fisher announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) museum in the San Francisco Presidio, tentatively named the Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio, to house his art collection. The museum, if it had been built, would have been larger than the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).[3] However, the plan engendered widespread skepticism and even outright antagonism among some historic preservationists in San Francisco.[9]

In July 2009, Fisher announced that he and his wife were abandoning their efforts to build the museum at San Francisco's Presidio, stating "Doris and I will take some time to consider the future of our collection and other possible locations for a museum, which could include other sites within the Presidio and elsewhere." [10] In September 2009, Donald and Doris Fisher decided to enter into a partnership with SFMOMA to display the world famous collection.[11]


One day after the San Francisco Chronicle article on the SFMOMA partnership, the Chronicle reported that Fisher died of cancer at home on Sunday morning, September 27, 2009.[12]


External links

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