William Warren Tanner

Pages 300-302 - William Warren Tanner, vice-president and sales manager of the A. B. Knowlson Company, and for more than half a century a leading factor in the business interests of Grand Rapids, is one of the enterprising and public-spirited men of this city who has made his way to prominence and honorable prestige through his own well directed energy and efforts. Coming to Grand Rapids and entering business life when a boy of fifteen, he essentially grew up with the city during the period of its most marvelous development, and he has never lost an opportunity to do what he could for the advancement of the best interests of the city which has figured as the stage of his splendid achievements, and in which his activities have been centered for fifty-three years. Mr. Tanner was born in Niagara county, New York, July 1, 1857, and is a son of Warren D. and Catherine (Green) Tanner. His parents moved to Kent county, Michigan, in the winter of 1858, and settled on a farm in Gaines township, where the father was engaged in agricultural pursuits for many years, and was one of the enterprising and highly respected citizens of that community. William W. Tanner spent his boyhood days upon his mother’s farm, where he was taught the habits of industry and economy, and the discipline proved a valuable one during the formative period of his life. His educational advantages were those afforded by the public school of Kent county, and Swenberg’s Commercial College at Grand Rapids, in which he made good time and use of his opportunity. As a youth he manifested unusual business talent, and in 1872, when he was only fifteen years of age, he came to Grand Rapids, where he secured a position with the Wheeler and Green Fanning Mill and Milk Safe Factory, which was located on the site where the Berkey and Gay furniture factory now stands, on what is now Monroe avenue. He remained with this concern until 1881, when he became identified with the Ford Furniture Company, on Prescott street, with whom he continued for four years. In 1885 he engaged with the Peninsular Furniture Company, and was with this concern until1889, when he accepted a position as superintendent of the Fremont Furniture Company at Fremont, Michigan. In 1895 he returned to Grand Rapids, and for the ensuing seventeen years he was engaged as traveling salesman for A. B. Knowlson, wholesale dealer in coal, lime and cement. On May 1, 1912, Mr. Knowlson, organized a stock company under the title of A. B. Knowlson and Company, of which Mr. Tanner became vice-president, and has since served in this capacity, being one of the active factors in the management of its affairs. Beside his connection with this concern he also has valuable real estate holdings in Grand Rapids, and other financial interests, and has done not a little to further its prestige as one of the leading commercial and residence cities in Michigan. Aside from his business activities, Mr. Tanner also finds time and opportunity to give effective co-operation in movements for the social and material betterment of the community, and has ever stood as an exponent of the best type of civic loyalty and progressiveness. His efforts are not confined to lines resulting in individual benefit, but are evident in those fields where general interests and public welfare are involved, and during the many years of his residence here he has wielded definite an benignant influence, both as a citizen and as a man of splendid business ability. He is a Mason in good standing and is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and of the Kent County Old Settlers Association. He is a Republican in his political affiliation, though he takes no active part in politics aside from casting the weight of his influence for men and measures working for the public good. Mr. Tanner was married August 30, 1882, to Miss Emmaline R. Webster, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a daughter of Daniel and Jan (Wallace) Webster, and a woman of engaging personality and much beauty of character, and to this union were born two sons: Frank A., of Grand Rapids, and William C., of Peoria, Illinois. The family home for twenty-two years has been at 608 Dolby avenue, S. E., and is a hospitable one, where their friends are always welcome.

Transcriber:  Ann Ed
Created: 22 October 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/tannerww.html