Almanac

Community - November 24, 2010

Obituaries: Silicon Valley Bank co-founder dies at 91

William E. "Bill" Biggerstaff, whose career included senior positions with Ford and Wells Fargo Bank, culminating in 1983 as a co-founder of Silicon Valley Bank, died Nov. 15 in Portola Valley. He was 91.

Mr. Biggerstaff was born in Berkeley. An avid sportsman, he lettered in basketball three years, while attending the University of California at Berkeley. After graduation in 1940, he entered the U.S. Navy and later commanded a destroyer escort in the South Pacific during World War II.

After the war, he attended Harvard Business School. Returning to the Bay Area, he worked first in auto sales, and later for Mechanics Bank in Richmond. He met Shirley Gibson of Piedmont and the couple was married in 1951. Two years later, Mr. Biggerstaff joined the international division of Ford Motor Company, working in New York City, Dearborn, Michigan, and Brussels, where he was responsible for opening new markets for Ford.

After relocating in Atherton, Mr. Biggerstaff joined

Wells Fargo in San Francisco and, among other duties, introduced MasterCard to banking clients in Japan, Australia and other markets.

In 1983, Mr. Biggerstaff and his friend and Sanford professor Robert Madearis, along with the-CEO Roger Smith, opened the first Silicon Valley Bank office in San Jose, recognizing the need for investment banking for small- to medium-size technology firms. Mr. Biggerstaff helped develop new markets and clients for the bank well into his 80s, say family members.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley; children Barry Biggerstaff of Carbondale, Illinois, Beth Anderson of Rocklin, Jan Owen of Seattle, and Brandon Biggerstaff of Emeryville; and seven grandchildren.

The family is planning a private memorial to celebrate Mr. Biggerstaff's life. Donations may be made to Pathways Hospice, 585 North Mary Ave. in Sunnyvale.

Richard Ward Lennen

Richard Ward Lennen, who owned Lennen Masonry in Redwood City, died Nov. 4 at age 73. He "laid countless bricks and build hundreds of fireplaces" in Atherton, Woodside and the Midpeninsula, said his son, Christopher Pedrin.

Born in San Francisco, he was a 13th generation Californian. He attended St. Ignatius High School for two years and then moved to the Peninsula to attend Sequoia High School. He became a star basketball player and met the woman who would become his first wife, Brenda Lehman. He graduated in 1955.

An accomplished diver, he barnstormed around the state doing shows with the Clyde Devine Comedy Divers, his son said. After graduating from the College of San Mateo, he became a lifeguard in Crescent City and Seattle.

Returning to the Peninsula, he married Brenda and they had four children. He worked in the construction field and started a career as a bricklayer.

From 1967 to 1969, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy's SeeBees 58th Battalion.

After graduating from San Francisco State in 1972, he taught history at Sequoia High School and Kennedy Middle School in Redwood City, his son said.

He was an expert snow and water skier, surfer, swimmer, and he loved to cliff dive with his oldest son, family members said.

In 2004, he retired to Pine Mountain Lake in Groveland, California.

He is survived by his first wife, Brenda, and their sons Christopher Pedrin, Robert and Rick Lennen, and daughter Jill Judd; his son Patrick Lennen and daughter Erika Lennen by Rosanna (Davis); six grandsons; and three granddaughters.

He will be buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, located in the Pu'owaina Crater (known as Punchbowl) in Honolulu.

Donations in his memory can be sent to the Sequoia High School Alumni Association in Redwood City. A casual gathering of friends and family was held Nov. 21 in Redwood City.

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