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Williams-Sonoma founder dies at 100

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By Joe Sutton

CNN

(CNN) — Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma, has died at age 100, the company said Saturday.

Williams, whose business is famous for its cookware, died of natural causes at his home in San Francisco.

His passion for cooking and entertaining friends led him into the entrepreneurial world in what would eventually become a global powerhouse celebrated by beloved cooks everywhere.

Though he loved to eat with friends, the likelihood he would have more than six people at a dinner party was slim. Williams believed that six was the maximum allowed at a dinner party.

“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,” the company said on social media accounts.

He opened the first Williams-Sonoma store in downtown Sonoma, California, in 1956. He had an admiration for the French cookware that captivated him during his initial visit to Europe in 1953.

In his first store, he sold a small array of cookware imported from France, introducing America to the French kitchen products such as the soufflé dish, the sauté pan and even balsamic vinegar.

“My advice for a long and happy life? Love what you do — and always eat well!” Williams said.

“Chuck taught us that when we open our doors to a customer, we welcome a friend into our home,” said Laura Alber, president of the company. “He had impeccable taste, unique insight for selecting the right products at the right time, and the highest standard of customer service. We will miss him dearly.”

The company operates more than 260 stores in the United States.