The Oct. 21 obituary of Edward R. Telling gave an incorrect account of his survivors. They include his wife of five years, Lynn Boyle Telling of North Palm Beach, Fla.; four children from his first marriage; two stepchildren; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A son from his first marriage, Edward R. Telling III, died in 2004. (Published 10/22/2005)
Edward R. Telling, 86, who rose from stockroom trainee to chairman and chief executive of Sears, Roebuck and Co., leading the retailer's expansion into financial services in the early 1980s, died Oct. 19 in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Mr. Telling died of cancer, according to retired Sears spokesman Ernie Arms, who disclosed the news for Telling's family. Sears confirmed the death.
Mr. Telling was chairman and chief executive of Sears from 1978 until his retirement in 1985. Under his direction, Mr. Telling tried to make Sears the ultimate one-stop shopping center. Through its acquisitions in a single week in 1981 of the Coldwell Banker real estate firm and Dean Witter Reynolds, Sears built an empire in which a customer could buy a house, finance and insure it, then furnish it through one corporate entity. Five years later, Sears launched the Discover Card, through which its customers could also finance consumer purchases.
By 1991, after Mr. Telling's retirement, the once-dominant American retailing giant slid from the top to No. 3, behind Wal-Mart and Kmart. As a shareholder rebellion intensified, the company began huge layoffs, costing tens of thousands of jobs, and shut down its "big book" catalogue and many of its auto centers. Sears shed the financial services acquisitions and returned to its origins as a mass retailer.
A native of Danville, Ill., Mr. Telling graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University and served as a Navy pilot during World War II before joining Sears in 1946 as a trainee in Danville. He went on to be store manager before moving into the corporate executive ranks at the company, which was then based in Chicago.
His wife, Nancy Hawkins Telling, died in 1996.
Survivors include two sons and three daughters; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.