Magazine article American Banker

Seattle's Walter Williams Dead at 85

Magazine article American Banker

Seattle's Walter Williams Dead at 85

Article excerpt

Walter B. Williams, who built a small Seattle mortgage company into what is now the $2.4 billion-asset HomeStreet Inc., died Nov. 9 at the age of 85.

In 1964, Mr. Williams became the president and chairman of Continental Inc. He succeeded his father, W. Walter Williams, who joined the mortgage company in 1922, a year after it was founded as Continental Mortgage and Loan Co., and became its president in 1927 and its chairman in 1958. (The company changed its name to Continental Inc. in 1933.)

Under Walter B. Williams' leadership, Continental opened a subsidiary, Continental Savings Bank, in 1986, and over time most of the mortgage company's operations were merged into the thrift.

Mr. Williams retired as the president of Continental Inc. in 1990 but remained its chairman until 1996; four years later it was renamed HomeStreet.

Bruce W. Williams, his son and the current chairman and chief executive of the family-controlled company, credits his father for paving the way for HomeStreet's growth. It is the seventh-largest banking or thrift company based in its home state and has 30 branches, in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Hawaii.

"My dad also cared a lot about our employees," Bruce Williams said; employees currently own about 20% of the company, under its employee stock ownership plan. "My dad wanted them to be able to share in the profits and the ownership of the company, which has made us stronger."

Walter B. Williams' daughter, Kathryn Williams, is a HomeStreet senior vice president and director. …

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