William Stone Woods (November 1, 1840 - July 5, 1917) was born in Columbia, Missouri, and graduated from Missouri State University in 1861. He became a student at the St. Louis Medical College, and after completing a course located as a physician in Middle Grove, Missouri. He practiced medicine until 1867 at which time he entered the mercantile business in Paris, Missouri. In 1869 he established the Rocheport Savings Bank in Rocheport, Missouri, and went on to become one of the post powerful financiers in Missouri.

Married Albine M. McBride on July 10, 1866. They had one daughter, Julia.

In 1880 he moved to Kansas City and became a member of the wholesale dry goods firm of Grimes, Woods, La Force & Co. In 1882 he acquired a controlling interest in the Kansas City Savings Association. He became president and reorganized the failing entity into the Bank of Commerce in 1882.

In 1902 he acquired controlling interest in the Clay County State Bank, located then at the corner of Broadway and Marietta. A new bank located at 101 E. Broadway was completed in 1906 (the current home of the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives.)
By 1903, Woods, Chandler and other partners controlled 18 banks ranging from Humboldt, Kansas, in the east to Clayton, New Mexico, in the southwest. These included banks in Oklahoma Territory and Texas. Ultimately, Chandler brought other of Wood's nephews into the Wichita-based banking empire.

In the early 1900's Woods bequeathed $35,000 for a new church building, now known as Woods Memorial Christian Church. Woods died at the Elms Hotel in 1917. He left an estate estimated to be worth $5 million, approximately 10 percent of which went to William Woods College.