PIEDMONT -- Descriptions of William Jurika would include U.S. Navy veteran, entrepreneur, outdoorsman, sportsman and someone always willing to think outside the box. Where others saw risk, he saw opportunity.
A longtime resident of Piedmont and Oakland, Jurika served on corporate boards and helped found two firms of his own. A respected man in business and on a personal level, Jurika died Aug. 7 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.
"He was a consummate individualist and adventurer," said Karl Mills, Jurika's longtime friend and business associate. "He was always willing to go against the crowd and conventional wisdom."
Jurika's venturesome spirit served him well in business. In 1981, he and Glenn Voyles founded Jurika & Voyles. Under their watch, this Oakland-based money management firm grew to more than $7 billion in assets and more than 140 employees at its peak.
New England Investment Companies bought Jurika & Voyles in 1997, and Jurika left the company three years later to begin a family office. In 2005, he and Mills teamed with Mikel Keifer to start Jurika, Mills & Keifer, a private investment company aimed at serving Bay Area residents. Jurika's business philosophies might have raised eyebrows in some quarters, but earned respect among his colleagues.
"Bill thought that investing was something made complicated by Wall Street," said Mills, who had known Jurika since 1987. "But he liked to make things simple for the client."
Business success was but one facet of Jurika, who was far from the all-work-no-play stereotype some might harbor of businessmen. He enjoyed skiing, white-water rafting and windsurfing and was an avid swimmer, kayaker and hiker. Given all these interests and activities, Jurika made friends both in and out of the office.
"He was the best man at my wedding," Mills said. "He was like a big brother to me, a mentor."
Born in the Philippines to American landowners on Oct. 11, 1939, Jurika studied at Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa and ultimately earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Denver. Jurika also served in the Navy as an underwater demolition expert, which helped shape his philosophy for later life in business, too.
"(Bill believed) there were no excuses," Mills said. "You take responsibility for your actions and do the right thing for the client -- you put the client first. He was a man of principles."
Jurika's Bay Area business ties spanned more than 40 years. His financial services career, however, began in New York with Francis Dupont & Company and E.F. Hutton. In the Bay Area, he was an early member of San Francisco's Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management.
Other business connections included service on the board of Emida Corp., a prepaid communications company, and the QuadraMed Corp., on whose board he served from 2001-05. In all, Jurika was actively involved in the recapitalizing and restructuring of the boards and management of several companies. Overall, Jurika gained the appreciation and respect not only of clients, but of those who worked under him.
"He took chances on people," Mills said. "If he liked you, he would see potential. During his career, he gave a lot of people opportunities. He was a generous spirit who liked to help people."
Jurika is survived by partner Silver Rose; wife Michelle, from whom he was separated but maintained a close relationship; son Dana and his wife Lila; and three grandchildren, Isabella, Walker and Kiara. Jurika also leaves behind his sister, Anne, and brother Louis as well as many other relatives and friends. Family and friends of Jurika are invited to a private memorial service at the Claremont Country Club on Saturday.