July 1, 1926 – May 18, 2013
WILLIAM M. FINE
William M. (Bill) Fine died on May 17, 2013, at the age of 86, in Beverly Hills, California, after a long battle with multiple atrophy syndrome. He was born July 1, 1926 in New York City, and spent his early childhood in West Los Angeles, California. He lived a full life of extraordinary achievements in publishing, fashion, and high public service. He lived in Greenwich, New Canaan, and Old Lyme, CT, Manhattan, Ireland, and England, and he moved back to Beverly Hills in May 2007.
While attending Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, he was part of the first group (along with Jonathan Winters and Paul Newman) to create a scholarship major in Speech. He later took the “short course” at the Harvard Business School.
Mr. Fine served with the 45th Infantry Division from 1944 to 1946. He received battle stars, and the Bronze Star medal, for action in the European theater in World War II. Along with 31 others, including President George H.W. Bush, he received the World War II Peace Medal at the Union League Club, for efforts to initiate peace from the end of the war.
In July, 1982, President Ronald Reagan named Fine a member of the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
In 1986, President Reagan named him U.S. Adviser to the U.S. State Department on the Anglo-Irish Accord, and International Fund. He spent 4 years under President Reagan, and 3 ½ years under President George H.W. Bush, in that post. In 2002, the Irish Times cited Fine as one of the 5 most influential people in bringing “peace to Northern Ireland for the first time in 36 years…. Fine executed a Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Tip O’Neill plan to create an Anglo-Irish International Fund to build small factories, finance small businesses, recruit for job training, and act as investment bankers for job creation…. Fine was chosen by the White House to organize the Fund with 7 nations, and the then-E.E.C. under Sir Geoffrey Howe.”
Fine also worked with President Jimmy Carter on the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement, attending meetings on the Agreement at the White House.
Bill Fine started his publishing career in weekly newspapers in Westchester County. In 1948, he bought the Tuckahoe Record and Bronxville Reporter. He then spent 10 years with the McCall Corporation, first as Fashion Advertising Manager, then General Manager of McCall Corporation West Coast, with editorial and advertising reporting to him.
In 1957, he joined the Hearst Corporation, and for a short time, was Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping. He became Publisher of Harper’s Bazaar in 1963; and then Publishing Director of Bazaar, House Beautiful, and Town and Country.
Over the years, Mr. Fine’s articles, stories, and columns were published in 37 magazines and hundreds of newspapers in the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland. In 1974, President Richard Nixon gave Fine his first interview after leaving the White House for San Clemente. It was published worldwide.
In 1967, Bill Fine was asked to be President, CEO, and Chairman of Bonwit Teller, which then had 14 branches from New York to California. The retailer was a division of Genesco, but it also had its own Board of Directors at the time, counting among its members Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale, Babe Paley, Arlene Frances, Phyllis Cerf Wagner, and Mary (Mrs. John) Lindsay.
In the mid-seventies, Mr. Fine became President of Wamsutta Mills. He was also President of Dan River Home Products Brands. Later, Fine bought Frances Denney Cosmetics.
In 1984, Fine started the WMF Fund Inc. In its 15 years, he had 17 international and financial clients. He was a member of the Warnaco Board of Directors for 32 years; Towle Silver and Hermes of Paris for 12 years; and also served on the Boards of Sheffield Watch, Lowenstein, and Galway Crystal in Ireland.
Fine was a Director of the Barbara and Frank Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage, California. The Center is located in the Eisenhower Medical Compound.
Fine’s book That Day With God, on the assassination of President John Kennedy, from a spiritual point of view, was published by McGraw-Hill and—long before recorded books became common-- was also made into an RCA recording, narrated by Henry Fonda. The Pope recorded his words on the assassination, Cardinal Cushing wrote the preface, and Cyril Ritchard spoke the words of the poet John Masefield. Rose Kennedy endorsed the book for the Kennedy family.
Mr. Fine’s second book , 16 Celebrities Who Charmed My Life, was published in 2003. His third book, Gonzales, a Noble Dog, was published in 2009. His fourth book, Nothing, Except Everything, Is Enough, was published in 2011.
Mr. Fine is survived by his long time partner, Kay Pick, who was with him when he passed away. He is also survived by 4 sons: B.William (Bill), Douglas, and Timothy in the U.S.; and Adam in England. He lost a son Alexander to diabetes in 2004. He had 5 grandchildren: Michael, Elizabeth; Rachel, and Jennifer; and Sarah; and 2 great grandchildren: Hailey and William.
He was a member of the Union League Club in Manhattan, Wee Burn Country Club in Darien CT, and the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.
Services for Mr. Fine will be held at the old Stanwich Church, at 237 Taconic Road, in Greenwich CT on Thursday May 23rd at 2 PM. Burial will follow at Stanwich Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are being made by Pierce Brothers of Los Angeles CA (310 474 1579) and by Leo P. Gallagher & Son of Greenwich CT (203 869 1513). Donations in Mr. Fine’s memory may be made to barbarasinatrachildren’scenter.org; or to autismspeaks.org.
- Funeral Service Thursday, May 23, 2013
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
receive updates when new memories are postedRECEIVE UPDATES
May 27, 2013
What an extraordinary man he was! Culture, Intelligence, Savoir Faire, Elegance...how lucky was I have known him. Am deeply saddened by your loss. My most heartfelt condolences.
John Thoresen, Barbara Sinatra Children's Center
May 22, 2013
Bill was a great man, an outstanding humanitarian, and a wonderful supporter of the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children. He will be greatly missed. To Kay and the family and close friends of Bill, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
May 19, 2013
Bill dear,you were like a brother to me,I enjoyed your humor,spirituality,your wisdom and most of all your total friendship,You wont be replaced,but remembed with a wide smile,Love,Norma