William Alfred Pickering, the active, forceful controller of the policies and business life of the Pickering fortunes, is the son and only child of William R. Pickering and Jane Coggburn Pickering and was born December 26, 1870, near Springfield, Mo.
In his subconscious mentality he must have been a mature lumberman even before he attained his citizenship.
In his physique, temperament and inborn tendencies he is an expression of his mother’s side of the family and, with a rare blending of his father’s and mother’s characteristics, one of the strongest personalities in the American lumber trade.
William A. Pickering is a man who was on watch when a fortune in the form of Opportunity knocked at his door. In his modest way he would maintain, if approached on the subject, that Opportunity along put him in the position he occupies in the lumber world. But as this appreciation is not an apostrophe to his modesty but an endeavor to set forth in as few words as possible the characteristics of a man who, between his twentieth and thirty-seventh years, has practically created a fortune which can be expressed only in seven figures, it must be stated that while he heard the first summons of that Opportunity which is supposed to come but once to every man, his alertness then was but the first skirmish in the great continuous battle which he since has waged and won in the commercial world.
W. A. Pickering gained his education through ordinary channels and concluded it by a course at Drury College, Springfield, at the age of 19, because duty called him to take up his father’s business for the purpose of making it what he might; his father at that time having temporarily lost his health.
At the age of 19 W. A. Pickering must have been as mature in mind as are many men at 36 and, although fresh from school, went at the work with all the ambition and hope of a freeman and the application of an articled apprentice. He worked in the yard, he kept books, he managed things, he dealt with customers and salesmen. He fitted snugly into all of the ramifications of the business.
It was he who looked far into the future when the field of operations of the Pickering interests narrowed in Arkansas and the Indian Territory and who went out into the yellow pine preserves of Louisiana to get hold of other timber and further build up the business.
When the W. R. Pickering Lumber Company was formed, in 1894, W. A. Pickering seemed an interest and became the active executive director of its affairs.
Since then he has created the policies of the company, discovered and purchased its timber possessions and otherwise put this institution in such well established timber relations that it is not an extravagant prognostication to say that this company undoubtedly will be an active quantity in some form or other as long as yellow pine lumber shall be produced in this country.
W. A. Pickering has traveled extensively in his own country, is widely read and stands in the front rank of business men generally as certainly as he is one of the first dozen lumbermen of the United States.
He married December 11, 1901, Miss Zoe Cravens, of Springfield, and has one child, Russell Cravens Pickering.
And this, briefly told, is the story to date of the lives of the two men at the lever of these interests; and whose hands, while not always seen, are as competently directing the affairs of the institution as also are the hands of those other men who look ahead into the light divided night and who make the trains go and go in and out at metropolitan terminals.