Business & Civic Leader
William Chase Putnam, Sr., son of Henry W. and Anna (née Andrews) Putnam, was born in Carthage on January 25, 1918. Bill attended Mark Twain School and Carthage High School before graduating from Pembroke Country Day School in Kansas City in 1936. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri. Mr. Putnam served in the U.S. Army Air Corp. during WWII. As a descendent of early settlers of Carthage and lifetime resident himself, Bill was dedicated to the betterment of his community.
Mr. Putnam entered his family’s lumber business in 1940. In 1948, at age 30, Bill assumed the leadership role of the many Putnam wholesale and retail lumber businesses after the sudden passing of his eldest brother and father in a short span of time. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Bill added to and consolidated companies to what was then known as the Lumber Specialty Company. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, he was one of the first lumber dealers in the nation to recognize a coming change in retail distribution and pioneered the first “home centers” in the area. Working with his sons Bill & Harry, Lumber Specialty Co. was renamed TAPJAC Home Centers in 1976, as reflection of the new business emphasis. He was also involved in land development and house construction in several communities in Missouri and Oklahoma.
Following in his father’s footsteps in area banking interests, Bill helped expand those interests to Springfield and Kansas City in the 1960’s and 70’s. He served as chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Mt. Vernon and The Aurora Bank, as well as on the board of directors of Boatmen’s Bank of Carthage, The Empire Bank and American National Bank of Springfield, and Jackson County State Bank in Kansas City. As a firm believer in the free enterprise system of America, Mr. Putnam enjoyed politics. He served as a member of the Republican City Committee and Republican State Committee. Mr. Putnam also served as treasurer for Gene Taylor during his entire term in office. As a result of this relationship, when a new subdivision was being formed in Carthage in the 1970’s, he helped name streets after Republican Seventh District Representatives and friends Gene Taylor, Durward Hall, and Dewey Short.
Mr. Putnam was also active in community service. He was the first chairman of the United Way Fund drive when it was organized in 1955. Bill served on the boards of the Mo-Kan Area Boy Scouts, The Salvation Army. McCune-Brooks Hospital, and original Carthage YMCA. He was a member of the Carthage Rotary Club and Grace Episcopal Church. In 1974, Bill was honored by the Missouri Municipal League for his service to the community.
Bill loved his Mizzou Tigers and was a loyal supporter and football season ticket holder for nearly 40 years. After his first wife Joan (née Cargill) died in 1977 after 36 years of marriage, Bill married Barbara Swanson in 1990. He died in 1998, leaving four sons, two stepchildren, and numerous grandchildren and friends. He is buried in Park Cemetery.