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Edward Brennan, 73, Sears chairman, CEO

CHICAGO (AP) — Edward Brennan, who started as a sales associate at a Sears store in Wisconsin and rose to become chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the mid-1980s, died Dec. 27 at age 73.

"We were saddened today to learn of the passing of Sears' former Chairman and CEO Edward Brennan," Sears spokeswoman Kim Freely said in a statement Friday given to the Associated Press. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Brennan family during this difficult time."

Mr. Brennan, who later took over as board chairman at American Airlines parent AMR Corp. when previous chairman Donald Carty was forced out because of financial and labor tumult, died at his home in suburban Burr Ridge, Ill., after a brief illness, the Chicago Tribune reported on its Web site.

The Chicago native served on a variety of boards, including McDonald's Corp., 3M Corp. and Exelon Corp. He also previously served as chairman of the board of trustees at DePaul University and Marquette University, his alma mater.

"Ed was a true leader and a man of great integrity. He made a tremendous contribution to McDonald's," McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said. "His strong leadership and experience were absolutely invaluable to us. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ed's family. We will miss him greatly."

In January 1981, he was elected chairman and chief executive officer of the Sears retail group and helped handle the acquisition of Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. and Coldwell, Banker & Company. From 1984 to 1986, Mr. Brennan was corporate president and chief operating officer.

In 1986, he became chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Sears that year launched its Discover Card, claiming 12 million holders by year's end.

Mr. Brennan retired from Sears and its board of directors on Aug. 9, 1995.

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