Blake Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, Dies at 58
Blake W. Nordstrom, the 58-year-old co-president of Nordstrom, died early Wednesday morning, the retailer announced. Executive leadership of Nordstrom will continue under company co-presidents Pete and Erik Nordstrom. In December, in an SEC note, Blake announced that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He told employees, customers and shareholders that he planned to undergo chemotherapy and reduce his travel schedule, but “otherwise continue to work throughout this process as normal.”
“My heart goes out to the Nordstrom family and everyone at the company during this difficult time," said Nordstrom Chairman of the Board Brad Smith, in a statement. "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."
Blake Nordstrom had a nearly five-decade career with the upscale department store chain, which was founded in 1901 as Wallin & Nordstrom in Seattle by his great-grandfather, Swedish immigrant John W. Nordstrom. In 2000, at 39, Blake Nordstrom was named corporate president. In 2015, he was named co-president, a title he shared with his brothers.
Total Retail's Take: Many customers, industry colleagues, partners and friends shared memories and condolences Wednesday, painting a picture of Blake Nordstrom as a humble leader who wasn't above performing low-level tasks even as he advanced to the company’s top ranks. In a Seattle Times article, for example, one customer recalled Nordstrom "distributing a cart full of directories ahead of a new store opening and then buying her a piece of pie in the cafe." Also in the article, fashion designer Kenneth Cole called Nordstrom “one of our industry’s truest leaders and finest individuals.”
In a statement, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said: “In retail, we have been blessed with thoughtful visionaries. They impact all of those who are touched by the industry — whether through employment, through giving back to communities they serve, or through a personal and heartfelt belief that leadership is not a right, but an opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact for current and future generations of those that follow. Blake Nordstrom embodied that commitment. He was a servant leader and a friend to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.”