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Former Williams-Sonoma chairman dies at 75

SAN FRANCISCO Williams-Sonoma has announced the death of W. Howard Lester, 75, former chairman and CEO of the company.

Lester retired from Williams-Sonoma in May following a 32-year career with the company. He succeeded by Laura Alber as CEO and Adrian Bellamy as non-executive chairman of the board.

Lester started his business career selling typewriters for IBM in 1958. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Howard created several of his own companies, including the Coley/Lester Employment Agency, as well as a few computer service and software businesses. He also formed Centurex Corporation, which became one of the leading suppliers of software systems to the American banking industry. After selling the company in 1976, he “retired,” according to the company.

In 1978, Lester met Chuck Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma, beginning his long-time career with the company.

When asked, in an interview with The Oklahoman, about how Williams-Sonoma impacted his own life, Lester replied, “It’s about good living, and I enjoy that.”

Lester is survived by his wife Mary; his children: Kirk and his wife Sheryl; Kathryn Lindlan and her husband Tim; and Kristen Rio and her husband Steve; his five grandchildren: Claire, Charles, and Charlotte Lester, Luke and Sarah Lindlan and his niece, Elizabeth Lester Hartmann.