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Obituary: Remembering Willem George Constantin Parson

Jan. 9, 1931 – July 25, 2015
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Willem George Constantin Parson passed away in his sleep on July 25, 2015, at his home on the West Shore. Bill was 84 years old and had a full life. His years in Romania, where he was born to Dutch parents, were followed by life in India and then the United States for college and, ultimately, his future. All those years were filled with adventure and misadventure, foreseen and unforeseen.  

During World War II, his mother led the family on an escape out of occupied Europe through the Middle East to India. In British India, Bill learned how to speak English, and graduated in the class of ’49 from the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, as that country struggled through a violent partition. Bill followed his brother Henk to Hope College in Holland, Mich., where he completed a bachelor’s in economics. He continued his studies in a master’s in economics at the University of Michigan. Bill then joined his brother in San Francisco where he found employment and permanent U.S. residence status working for the new Indian Government Tourist Office.

In 1960, Bill and his friends partnered to build a cabin at Donner Lake. He found a job working at the Squaw Valley Inn so he could keep the project on track, thus beginning his career in the hotel and resort business. Shortly thereafter, Bill was hired by William Newsom Sr. to help manage the Olympic Village for the Squaw Valley Improvement Company.

In 1966, Bill married Norma Haller in San Francisco. At various times over the next 24 years Bill managed and operated the Olympic Village, the Squaw Valley Inn, the Squaw Valley Lodge, Blythe Olympic Ice Arena, Sunnyside Resort, the Visitor and Conventions Bureau, and more. Along the way, Bill quietly earned his U.S. citizenship.

In 1978, Bill was asked to take over operations at Granlibakken. He took the 74-acre operation near Tahoe City out of bankruptcy to a successful operation. Bill maintained the ski operations in the valley, preserving Granlibakken as California’s oldest ski area in continuous operation.  

He loved to tell the stories, and we loved to listen. During all of these years he dreamed, he imagined, he conceived (and misconceived), he worked, and he dreamed again. The combination was infectious.

A celebration of life will be held Aug. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at Granlibakken in Tahoe City. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation Cancer Center.

~ Ron Parson is Bill Parson’s nephew, having worked on and off for his uncle since he was 10 years old and full-time since August 2002 after retiring from the U.S. Navy.

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Reader comments so far...

thobday | Truckee
Bill was a very special man who cared deeply about the Tahoe Region and it's people. He and Norma were always there to assist a worthy cause, often behind the scenes. We first met in 1962 when he was the Manager of the Olympic Village. The Cal Ski Club wanted to stage a Winter Carnival Weekend, but we needed a venue. Bill agreed to book the entire Village for a 3 day weekend in February with no deposit! That tradition continued for several years mainly because of Bill's faith and intuition in people. I followed his career and reconnected when Pam and I moved to the Region full time. His contributions to this area and it's people have made a major impact and will continue to affect us all in the future. Bill will be missed, but the results of his community efforts will stay with us all.

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June 14, 2018