This weekend, Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma, died peacefully in his sleep. He had turned 100 in October.
In 1956, Williams bought a hardware store in Sonoma and began stocking it with the type of copper, enamel, and cookware he found when traveling in Europe.
“Back then, American cooks typically had two knives — a big one and a small one — and not necessarily sharp,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1995. “Pots were mostly those terrible little aluminum things that always warped. They would wobble on the stove, and it was hard not to burn food in them.”
Williams sold the majority of the company in 1978, but kept on as the face of the brand and worked on various projects, including 50 cookbooks, well into his 90s.
Friends and coworkers remember him as "beloved," "dapper," and "a gentleman right up until the end."