Edward Brennan was the chairman and chief executive of Sears at its peak in the 1980s. He was born in Chicago and began working for Sears as a salesman in Madison, Wisconsin in 1956 after graduating from Marquette University. His grandfather, father, and several uncles were former employees of Sears. He rose quickly in the ranks. As chairman of the company’s retail group in the early 1980s he helped acquire Dean Witter Reynolds and Coldwell Banker. He became chief executive of the entire company in 1986. Brennan retired in 1995, at which time Sears had lost much business to Wal-Mart. During his role as chief executive he oversaw the introduction of the Discover card—the first big bank credit card to be started in 20 years. During his retirement Brennan sat on several corporate boards including McDonald's and the AMR Corporation.