Kenneth A. Macke, chairman and CEO of the Dayton Hudson Corp. from 1984 to 1994, died Saturday from complications associated with Parkinson's disease. Macke, who had moved to Napa, Calif., with his wife, Kathleen, after retiring in 1994, was 69.
Macke joined Dayton's in 1961 as a merchandise trainee and spent his entire career at the company, later renamed Target Corp.
"My dad was a born merchant," said his son Jeff Macke of Bedford, N.Y. "He was passionate about showing respect for every customer who walked in the door by giving them superior service and a clean place to shop. By running the nicest stores in the discount world, Target clearly defined its niche and became one of the best companies in America. My dad absolutely loved working on Target and walking the aisles 'undercover' at every opportunity."
Macke rose through the ranks to top positions at Dayton's and Target. He ran Target from 1976 until 1981, when he was named president of the parent corporation. While Macke was CEO, Target grew from 49 stores in nine states to 137 stores in 16 states and became Dayton Hudson's largest profit center, eclipsing the Dayton's and Hudson's department stores that were sold after Macke retired.
During the decade he was chairman and CEO of Dayton Hudson, the company grew from 350 stores to 909 stores in 33 states. Revenues more than doubled to $19 billion.
Macke also was at the helm in 1987 when the company rallied the community and the Legislature to pass a law that contributed to the defeat of a hostile takeover by the Haft family of Washington.
Although Dayton Hudson experienced so-so financial performance in several years, it was recognized as one of America's best-run and most-admired companies. Macke's commitment to provide opportunities for women and minorities also brought national recognition to Dayton Hudson from several publications.
Macke was a trustee of Drake University in Iowa, his alma mater, and a director of the Walker Art Center and the Urban Coalition of Minneapolis. He also led the Minneapolis United Way annual campaign to record years as board member or chairman from 1989 to 1993.
He also served as a director of General Mills, Carlson Companies, U.S. Bancorp, McGlynn Bakeries and other companies.
Macke broke into the business world as a 15-year-old shoe salesman in Carroll, Iowa. He loved merchandising and selling. The oldest child born to a working-poor family, he attended Drake University on a football scholarship. He joined Dayton's when it was a three-unit department store company.
Macke was noticed and mentored by Kenneth Dayton, one of the several brothers who ran the company, and other executives.
"I don't know if I was brighter [than anybody else]," Macke said of the early years in a 1989 interview. "But I had a work ethic that was second to none. My hours were simple -- whatever hours the store was open. That gave me more time to learn more things."
In addition to his wife and son Jeff, Macke is survived by another son, Michael, of Napa; a daughter, Melissa Raz of San Francisco, a sister, a brother and several grandchildren.
Services will be private.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144