In 1930 Putney was born on the Yale University campus, the son of Yale Economics Professor Ray Westerfield and Yale PhD Classics Teacher BB Putney Westerfield. Valedictorian of his class at The Choate School, he attended Yale, majoring in history and political science, serving as a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News, a co-founder of Careers Inc., a publishing company, and Managing Editor of the Connecticut Shore, a weekly newspaper for the “summer colonies” of the Connecticut and Rhode Island coastline.
Joining the CIA upon graduation, he served in Hong Kong & Southeast Asia (1951-52), Seoul, Korea (1953-54), and in Saigon, Vietnam (1955-57) when America first became involved in nation building and long before the start of the Vietnam War (1965-73).
Completing his CIA assignment in 1957, Putney joined Time Incorporated as Assistant to the TIME Publisher, advancing rapidly to TIME Circulation Director, TIME Assistant Publisher, LIFE Assistant Publisher, and FORTUNE Publisher.
In 1973 he accepted the position as Founding President of Chase World Information Corporation, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Bank engaged in information services targeting the needs of global business, especially the “new markets” (Asia, Middle East, East-West Trade). For more than 30 years he has remained a participating member of the TIME-LIFE Alumni Society, the most active alumni organization of any corporation. Motto: “We had fun together there; why wouldn’t we have fun now!”
In 1976, recognizing the high-growth potential of Executive Recruiting, Putney joined Boyden International in New York, was named West Coast Manager in 1978, and was subsequently elected Chairman & President by the firm’s global partners. He remained active in search after retirement in 1992, and enjoyed attending the firm’s annual meetings in such locales as Hong Kong, Versailles, Bariloche (Argentina), Vancouver.
All of his career required considerable international travel, which remains his primary hobby. He and his wife Anne have shared visits to about 85 countries, and he has added another 30 one might classify as “more adventurous.”
Pro-bono work has been a feature of his life. He has headed his Choate Class for 65 years, Chairman the Choate Alumni Fund and Alumni Associations in the 1960s, served as Trustee from 1967 – 1977, and has been honored with the School’s Distinguished Service Award. For Yale he has served on the University’s Communication Board, the Founding Board (1971) of the Association of Yale Alumni, and for Yale ’51 as Reunion Chairman and Vice-Chair of Reunion Class Gifts, which one might note, always set new Yale records. He and Anne (and most of their children and grandchildren) have been based in the San Francisco area since 1978.
For many years Putney served on the boards of two international non-profit institutions: The US-South Africa Leaders Exchange Program 1971- 1995, devoted to “Building a Just and Fair Society in South Africa.” And as a founder in 1989 of Vietnam’s East Meets West Foundation devoted to improving the lives and opportunities of the less advantaged of Vietnam. It has emerged as the largest NGO devoted to Vietnam.