William Modell, 86, Dies

William Modell, an iconic figure in retailing for 6 decades as head of the nation's oldest family-owned sporting goods company, died yesterday.

Modell took over as chairman after World War II and began to grow the chain as a major sports retailer from 4 New York City stores to 136 in 11 Northeast states.

Modell was also a philanthropist, city commissioner, patron of the arts and civil rights pioneer.

In 1947, right after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Modell placed Robinson's image in a company advertisement.

William Modell was 86.