William “Bill” Jenkins, decorated World War II veteran and retired head of Seafirst Bank, died Wednesday (June 27 2007) at his home on Bainbridge Island after a long bout with cancer. He was 88.
Mr. Jenkins had just received his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University in 1943 when he joined the U.S. Navy. He was selected for the Navy’s Combat Demolition Unit, a precursor to the Navy SEALs, and was among the first to land on the beaches of Normandy in France on June 6, 1944. He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Croix d’Guerre with Palm for his efforts on D-Day.
Mr. Jenkins was born in Sultan to Warren and Louise Jenkins, a banker and homemaker. He graduated from Everett High School and the University of Washington.
After World War II, he returned to the Puget Sound area to begin his banking career and marry his first wife, Betty Taber, now Betty Bottler, with whom he had seven children.
Mr. Jenkins rose to become chairman of the Everett Trust and Savings Bank in 1956 and six years later became chairman and CEO at Seafirst (then known as Seattle First National Bank), where he remained until his departure in 1982.
Bank of America took over Seafirst in 1983, and Mr. Jenkins later told a federal-court jury during a case brought by Seafirst’s insurance provider that he resigned from the bank rather than get fired.
Mr. Jenkins served on the board of directors for numerous companies, including Safeco, United Airlines and Pacific Northwest Bell. In 1987, he married New Englander Ann Ramsay-Jenkins, whom he had met through a mutual friend. She gave up a job as Harvard’s budget director and moved to Seattle.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Jenkins is survived by his seven children: Cordy Beckstead of Wenatchee; Ann Rohrbacher of Goldendale, Klickitat County; William Jenkins of Seattle; Karen Olanna of Nome, Alaska; Peter Jenkins of Bethesda, Md.; David Jenkins of Lantana, Fla.; and Barbara Jenkins, of Shoreline. He also is survived by his wife’s son, Adam Cornell of Edmonds, as well as 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with three more on the way.