SEATTLE -- Nordstrom co-president Blake Nordstrom, who disclosed in December that he was battling lymphoma, died early Wednesday morning in Seattle, according to a news release from Nordstrom. He was 58 years old.
“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," said Nordstrom Chairman of the Board Brad Smith.
Nordstrom co-presidents Pete and Erik Nordstrom will continue to run the company, the release said.
Blake Nordstrom served as president of Nordstrom from 2000-2015. He became co-president of the Seattle-based department store chain in 2015.
“He was just the epitome of a great guy,” said Peg Achterman, a classmate of Nordstrom’s at the University of Washington.
Achterman says they were both on the school rowing team.
"He was one of the most generous people I have ever known. He would come mentor the rowers, he would bring his human resources person to team meetings to talk to them about careers,” said Achterman.
She added that he gave generously to scholarships and was always willing to help students whether they had an interest in learning about retail or volunteering with the rowing team.
The Nordstrom family’s philanthropy was also felt by United Way and other organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Puget Sound who say their contributions directly impacted the children they serve.
“They believe in the integrity of our work and we don’t lend out our brand name to just anyone,” Louis Garcia, CEO of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Puget Sound. “Big Brothers & Big Sisters, a whole bunch of other organizations have been touched by the Nordstrom name, so a big passing like that touches us all,” he added.
The Seattle Times first reported Blake Nordstrom's lymphoma diagnosis on Dec. 10, 2018. He told shareholders at the time that his cancer was treatable and that doctors were "optimistic and encouraged by my prognosis."
"You just have never met a more kind person. He was one of the first ones that reached out when I had lymphoma a year ago to say hey you doing ok, so when he was diagnosed, if you need to know anything about this let me know.”
Blake Nordstrom leaves behind his wife Molly, and their children.
“You poke him and you get a nice guy, an honest businessman and someone who cared deeply, deeply about Seattle and the University of Washington,” said Achterman.