William J. Rietow is the president of the German Bank and formerly was the vice president of the Crocker Chair Company of Sheboygan, with which he had been connected since its organization in 1881. The original members of the company were James H. Mead, W. D. Crocker, A. D. Crocker, R. E. Crocker and William J. Rietow. Mr. Rietow was born upon a farm in the town of Wilson, Sheboygan county, Wisconsin, August 22, 1855, a son of Ernst and Anna Rietow, both of whom were natives of Mecklenburg, Germany. Following his arrival in the new world, in 1848, the father lived for a-time upon a farm in Sheboygan county but afterward engaged in the retail furniture business in the city of Sheboygan, conducting his store from 1855 until his death in 1868. After his death the mother continued the business until 1873.
William J. Rietow was reared in the city which is still his home and attended the public schools here. He started out in the business world when but a boy as an apprentice to the cabinet-maker's trade. Realizing the necessity and value of further educational training, he spent one year in the Northwestern University at Watertown, Wisconsin, and also attended the Spencerian Business College at Milwaukee. He was afterward with John H. Plath for a brief period and later became bookkeeper for the Sheboygan Carriage Company in 1876. This company was the predecessor of the Crocker Chair Company. His connection therewith, however, was not continuous from that period, for from 1887 until 1891 he was engaged in the grocery business with his brother, George H. In the latter year, however, he returned to the Crocker Chair Company as its treasurer and subsequently was elected vice president. This business was organized in 1881 and something of the growth of the undertaking is indicated by the fact that the number of employees has been increased from fifty to eight hundred. In 1912, upon the death of Fred Karste, Sr., and the reorganization of the German Bank, Mr. Rietow withdrew from the Crocker Chair Company and was elected president of the bank.
Mr. Rietow was united in marriage to Miss Amelia Telgener, of Sheboygan, and they have four children: Florence, who is the wife of Walter J. Vollrath; Rhoda, the wife of William A. Reiss; Anna Kurt; and William H.
While Mr. Rietow is preeminently a business man, as is indicated by his extensive and important interests, he never allows commercial affairs to exclude his active participation in movements and projects that have to do with public welfare; on the contrary, he gives active and earnest support to all such measures and ever seeks the benefit and upbuilding of his community. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and in 1884-5 he served as alderman of the second ward. He was again called to that position in 1893, once more in 1896 and continued in the office until 1900, while for one term he served as president of the common council. As a member of the council he exercised his official prerogatives in support of many public movements which have proven directly beneficial to the city. He has served on the cemetery committee, is a member of the Associated Charities and fraternally is well known as a prominent Mason, having attained the Knight Templar degree of the York Rite and the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. He is a member of the Shrine, and also a member of the Royal Arcanum and the National Union. His life has been one of continuous activity, in which has been accorded .due recognition of labor, and he is today numbered among the prominent and substantial citizens of his county. As a business man he has been conspicuous among his associates for his probity, fairness and honorable dealing as well as for his success, which constitutes an important feature in public prosperity as well as in individual advancement.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL