The co-founder and chairman of Costco, Jeff Brotman, passed away early Tuesday at the age of 74.

"The thoughts of Costco's board, management and employees are with Jeff's wife and family," the company said in a release.

Brotman was born in September 1942. He co-founded Costco with Jim Sinegal in 1983, opening the first location in Seattle.

The company originally started seven years earlier as Price Club in San Diego. The two retailers merged in 1993.

Currently Costco has 736 wholesale warehouses, including 511 in the United States and at least 10 in Western Washington.

An alumni of the University of Washington, Brotman was active in the UW community, serving on several boards and initiatives, including the launch of the Costco Scholarship Fund.

"As we remember Jeff, we will rededicate ourselves to his long-held belief in social justice and equity," UW President Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement. "His generosity is a model for what it means to give back to your community and to provide opportunities for all, and for that we are forever grateful."