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San Francisco -- W. Howard Lester, chairman emeritus and former CEO of Willliams-Sonoma, died Nov. 15 from cancer at his home in Indian Wells, Calif. He was 75.
Lester purchased the company with a partner in 1978, when it generated $4 million in annual sales and had four stores. During his time as CEO, from 1978 to 2001, and later as chairman, Lester took Williams-Sonoma public and expanded it to 600 stores and more than $3.4 billion in sales, the company said yesterday in a statement.