Gary Comer, Lands' End founder, dies at 78

Oct. 5, 2006 at 5:37 PM
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CHICAGO, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Gary Comer, founder of the Lands' End clothing empire, has died at his Chicago-area home at age 78.

Comer, who died Wednesday after a long fight with prostate cancer, was surrounded by his family when he passed away, the Chicago Tribune said.

"Gary's drive to succeed in business was only surpassed by his deep commitment to Chicago's children," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "His generosity was boundless. He knew firsthand the importance of hard work and excellence, and he devoted his later life to instilling those values in others."

Comer started Lands' End in the early 1960s as a sailing equipment retailer and took the organization public in 1986. In 2002 Sears, Roebuck & Co. bought it for $1.9 billion.

The generosity of Comer and his wife, Francie, can be measured in the millions of dollars. The couple donated more than $80 million to the creation and expansion of the Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago, funded the South Shore Drill Team and built homes for people in the Grand Crossing neighborhood.

In addition to his wife, son, Guy, and daughter, Stephanie, Comer is survived by son-in-law Rob Craigie and three grandchildren.

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