Former Sears chief dies at 73

Edward A. Brennan, who served as CEO and chairman of the board for Sears, Roebuck & Co. from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, died at his home in Burr Ridge, Ill., following a brief illness. He was 73.

Brennan became CEO of Sears in 1986, when the company was the nation’s largest retailer and occupied the iconic Sears tower in Chicago. At that time, the retailer also managed big-name ancillary companies, including Coldwell Banker, Dean Witter, Discover and Allstate Insurance. Brennan served as CEO until 1995, through a period that saw Sears’ strong market presence decline in the face of pressures from big-box and discount retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and others.

Prior to his service as CEO, Brennan was named president of Sears Merchandise Group in 1980, then to the post of corporate president and COO in 1984.

Following his tenure at Sears, Brennan served as a director at American Airlines and was named executive chairman and president of American in 2003, after the company’s CEO resigned abruptly. He served as CEO of American Airlines for one year.

Aprivate service was held Dec. 31 in Willowbrook, Ill. Brennan is survived by his wife, Lois, six children and 19 grandchildren.