Chuck Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma, passed away last week at age 100. Williams, a gourmet and carpenter, opened a French cookware store in Sonoma, California, back in 1956; in doing so, he filled a growing void on the market for kitchen tools and other products for the home, reports The New York Times. That store grew into Williams-Sonoma, which now operates 600 stores and tops $4.7 billion in revenue.
Though Williams sold the company in 1978, he continued to serve as the face of the company. He ran a test kitchen, traveled on behalf of the brand, and produced catalogs and cookbooks. “He built a powerful brand that inspired a cultural revolution around food and had immeasurable impact on home and family life around the world,” reported Williams-Sonoma in a statement.
Williams’s friends and contemporaries included James Beard and Julia Child, and he served on the boards of The Culinary Institute of America and the The American Institute of Wine & Food. He died in his sleep on December 5, leaving no immediate survivors.