Chuck Williams died of natural causes at his home in San Francisco on Saturday. The Williams-Sonoma founder was 100 years old, and in a statement published on Facebook, the company said that “The Williams-Sonoma family has lost a dear friend, an inspiring mentor and our favorite cook. Chuck Williams’ spirit will live on forever in our kitchens – and in our hearts.”
As reported by the Los Angeles Times on December 5, Chuck Williams never married nor had children. The store was his life and “he had no regrets.”
The news that Chuck Williams died is touching the hearts of many who have fond memories of the man who was known for his dedication to his work and his employees – and his love for dogs:
“In memory of our dear friend Chuck Williams, 100-year-old founder of Williams-Sonoma, who just crossed the Rainbow Bridge to meet up with his beloved dog, Bill. … Chuck would bring his Belgian shepherd, Bill, to work with him every day. When customers realized this, instead of leaving their dogs in their cars, they asked Chuck to take care of them—and he did. “
“The thing about this man is that he cared more about his customers and employees than a profit. His business was built on service and love. He also created devoted staff from the bottom to the top. We are always family no matter where you worked or how long Thank you Chuck Williams. You are loved. I never cease to have a thrill when I walk into the doors of what you started.”
Chuck Williams, who was born on October 2, 1915, in Florida, learned to cook from his grandmother who had owned a restaurant in Lima, Ohio. Williams’ father lost his auto repair business during the Great Depression, and when a move to southern California did not improve the family’s financial situation, his father abandoned his wife, daughter, and son. Williams’ sister died in 1933 and his mother returned to Florida – leaving Williams alone in California.
In 1947, Williams fell in love with the town of Sonoma while playing golf there with friends, moved there, and started his business as a building contractor. In 1953, he bought the Ralph Morse Hardware Store in Sonoma which he converted from a hardware to a French cookware store, and in 1956, founded the Williams-Sonoma company. By 1958, Williams moved his successful business to San Francisco, introduced the company’s first cookware catalog, and today there are more than 200 Williams-Sonoma stores in the United States.
In 1953, “Chuck takes a 3-month-long journey to Europe with friends. While there, he sees what French, German and Swedish cooks are using in their kitchens and is inspired to bring the same high-quality cookware to Americans,” writes the Williams-Sonoma website. The news that Chuck Williams died has prompted the Williams-Sonoma company to publish a wonderful video about the company’s inspirational and passionate founder.