Retail Force Blake Nordstrom Dead at 58

Blake Nordstrom, the co-president of Nordstrom and a huge force in the legendary retail family, died today after being diagnosed with lymphoma last month.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Blake Nordstrom. Blake died in Seattle early this morning, Jan. 2, at the age of 58,” a company statement said.

Nordstrom said that Blake’s brothers and co-presidents Pete and Erik Nordstrom will continue to lead the retailer. “We appreciate your respect for the privacy of the family during this difficult time,” the statement said.

Top fashion players — including Josh Schulman, Diane Sullivan, Steve Madden, Sam Edelman and many others — heralded Nordstrom as an influential leader who personified Nordstrom’s values. (For more, click here.)

“Blake was kind, a gentleman and great leader, a visionary, a collaborator and someone who just cared about everyone. I respected him enormously and I’ll miss him,” said Sullivan, the CEO, president and chairman of Caleres Inc.

Nordstrom chairman Brad Smith said in the statement, “My heart goes out to the Nordstrom family and everyone at the company during this difficult time. Everyone who worked with Blake knew of his passion and deep commitment to employees, customers and the communities we serve. We are fortunate to have continued leadership from co-presidents Pete and Erik Nordstrom.”

In early December, Nordstrom said he had been diagnosed with a survivable form of lymphoma and was undergoing treatment.

“I will undergo chemotherapy over the next few months in Seattle and will reduce my scheduled travel during this time,” Nordstrom said. “As I focus on my health and knowing some days will be better than others, I’m told I can otherwise continue to work throughout this process as normal … Cancer is all too common, and I know many of you have dealt with it yourselves or know someone who has. I have a good team of doctors and value the support of my family and friends.”

Blake and his family together built one of the most successful retail businesses in the U.S. But their mission went far beyond business.

“We want all employees to feel as though it’s their name on the door and that they are empowered to do whatever it takes to serve the customer on their terms,” Blake explained to FN. “Our open-door policy is connected to the idea that we all have a stake in this together. It’s up to each of us to play our role in delivering the best experience for the customer.”

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