The man who founded the Sonoma County-born business called Williams-Sonoma Inc. has died, the company announced Saturday.
Charles "Chuck" Williams was born in North Florida in 1915 and started the first Williams-Sonoma store in Sonoma in 1956, company officials said.
He was 100 years old when he died, according to company officials.
When Williams returned from WWII he visited Sonoma on a golf trip from southern California and gained affection for the place, company officials said. He moved to Sonoma and started a home construction business.
A trip to Paris in 1953 where he saw many great tools for cooking inspired him to open the first Williams-Sonoma store off Sonoma's town square. He refurbished the store by hand, laying black and white checkerboard tiles on the floor and building customs shelves on which to display pots and pans.
He relocated the store to a 3,000 square feet location off Union Square on Sutter Street in San Francisco in 1958 when the company published its first catalog. The Sutter Street store grew to twice its original size by 1972 and Williams and business partners opened stores in Beverly Hills and Palo Alto.
Williams sold the company in 1978 and stayed involved with it until he died, company officials said.
He edited cookbooks, provided advice on merchandising, and appeared in public into his nineties.
"Chuck taught us that when we open our doors to a customer, we welcome a friend into our home," Williams-Sonoma Inc. President and CEO Laura
"He had impeccable taste, unique insight for selecting the right products at the right time, and the highest standard of customer service," she added. "Most of all, Chuck was our mentor and friend. We will miss him dearly.".