William R. “Bill” Timken died on September 27, 2021 from heart failure. He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey to J. Henry Timken and Charlotte G. Timken. Bill was raised in Verona, New Jersey, and attended local schools and Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J. Bill graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1957 where he met his wife, Judy. They eventually settled in Morristown, N.J. where they raised their family and made many lifelong friends before moving to Lafayette, CA in 1974, the place they called home for 47 years.
Bill started his career in the financial industry at A.C. Allyn in Chicago in 1958 which merged with Francis I. duPont in 1961. In 1969, his former colleague, William R. Hambrecht, recruited him to be the third founding partner of Hambrecht & Quist, a fledgling San Francisco-based investment bank. While Hambrecht and George Quist ran the west coast operations, Bill opened H&Q’s New York office and grew it to 60 people strong. In 1974, amidst a stubborn bear market, H&Q urged Bill to head west where exciting things were happening in a place called Silicon Valley. Seeing this opportunity as a risk worth taking, lifelong east coaster Bill packed up his family and headed west to join H&Q’s San Francisco office. There, he became Vice Chairman overseeing Equity Capital Markets and pricing over 2500 IPOs, including Apple, Genentech, Adobe, Gilead Sciences, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, and Robert Mondavi. In the 1980’s, he also served on the Board of Governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Bill was instrumental in establishing H&Q as a pioneer in bringing emerging technology and biotechnology firms public. He was highly respected in the investment banking industry throughout his career and long after. A legendary deal maker, he was affectionately dubbed “Six Dollar Bill” by his colleagues. He was also a beloved firm leader. He treated everyone with respect and he mentored many who today consider him the most important influence in their lives. Bill retired from the firm he loved in 1999 and turned his attention to private investing, where he used his considerable skill and talent to help younger entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. He is referred to by many as “our first investor” and “our most trusted advisor.”
Also in retirement, Bill continued his decades-long involvement with Blair Academy, an institution which he credited with turning his life around at age 16 following a debilitating childhood hip injury which made school attendance difficult. At Blair, he thrived. He was mentored there by men who helped shaped him into the man he became and he remained forever grateful and indebted to the school as a result. He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2006, following the long tenure of his dear friend, John C. “Jack” Bogle. Bill became an emeritus Trustee in 2006 but remained an integral force at the school and an ever-present advisor and friend to everyone associated with Blair. In 1998, Blair Academy honored Bill by naming its brand new, state of the art library after him. Bill joked at the dedication of the Timken Library that it was “the first time I’ve ever been in a library on the Blair campus.” In keeping with his often irreverent sense of humor coupled with his understated sense of style, he eschewed a formal “Chairman’s portrait” in favor of one which depicted him sitting on the hood of his 1961 Corvette, a portrait that today hangs in his namesake library.
Bill was an avid tennis player and a car enthusiast who was known around Lafayette for his shiny, mostly blue, cars and his weekly trips to Johnny’s Donuts and ACE Hardware. He loved his summers on Lake Tahoe where he cruised the lake in his pristine 1935 Garwood, aptly named “Snow Water.” In 1987, he and Judy joined a group of local investors to purchase and renovate the iconic Sunnyside Resort. Bill was a fixture at Sunnyside on weekends for over 30 years, shooting the breeze with everyone who passed by while he sat on the gas dock monitoring the boat traffic in and out of the marina. And every Saturday night, he and Judy occupied Table 2 at their favorite restaurant, Wolfdale’s, in Tahoe City. Those were the kind of habits that endeared Bill to everyone who knew him. “You can set your watch by Bill Timken” was a common refrain.
Bill was truly one of a kind. Generous to friends and family alike, he was a true provider in every sense of the word. He was a man of few, but always well-chosen words, which made his counsel even more precious to anyone lucky enough to receive it. He lived by his own adage “there is a place for everything and everything must be labeled!” This could be exasperating to his family at times, but the lesson stuck, as did so many others he imparted to them. He was revered by all who knew him as an enlightened leader, a strategic thinker, and a fiercely loyal friend. Despite his many successes, he was a humble man who never sought the spotlight. He was, to his core, a man of unimpeachable integrity, an enduring quality which he modeled in word and deed every day for his children and grandchildren.
Bill is survived by his wife of 64 years, Judy Timken, his children Jean Timken (Steve Cuny), Bill Timken, Jr. (Shelley), Heidi Timken (Leslie Johnson), and grandchildren Blair Cuny, Eric Timken (Margaret Mendenhall), William R. Timken III, Maxwell Perkins, and Jackson Perkins (Kathryn Butler). Bill was predeceased by his brother John H. Timken and his sister Rosemarie Haas. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. The family wishes to thank the devoted caregivers that made his last few years easier – Gina, Bien, and Juliana.
In his memory, donations may be made to Blair Academy (https://www.blair.edu/) or the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano (https://www.foodbankccs.org/). A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at the Lafayette Park Hotel on Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00 pm. Vaccinations and masks required. Kindly RSVP to TimkenMemorial@gmail.com.
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