Meet Your Merchant | Real estate done right |

Meet Your Merchant | Real estate done right

Bill Whitehead stands in front of Boice O’Neal’s office in Tahoe Donner. Whitehead bought the company in 1983 and chose to stick with its original ideals and philosophies.
Courtesy Jenny Luna |

More Info

What: Boice O’Neal Realty

Location: office located in downtown Truckee, Tahoe Donner and Tahoe City

Phone: 530-587-3505 (Tahoe Donner office)


TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — “It all led to that day,” Bill Whitehead said of events that transpired and guided to him buy Boice Realty four years after his first day on the job.

His first day on the job wasn’t predictable. He met his future wife, Darla, also a new hire at the office. The two came into the company just days after the death of its founder and owner, Mary Anne Boice. The local real estate agent was killed on Germany’s autobahn, traveling to the airport after a ski vacation in the Alps.

Under the veil of the company’s unexpected changes, one important question caught Bill’s attention during his interview, that first day in 1979.

“Will you work as hard for a $5,000 lot sale as you will for a $200,000 dollar house sale?”

“One of the thrills of being in this resort community for all these years is building relationships.”
Bill Whitehead, owner of Boice O’Neal Realty

The philosophies Bill found at Boice were ones with which he stuck and continued to build upon.

As he and Darla built their business, they were clear about becoming great at one thing, shying away from being a jack-of-all-trades company.

“I learned in 1983 and bought into the philosophy that we were not everything to everybody, meaning we wanted to build a company with reputable Realtors working for it.”

Bill prides his business on the camaraderie fostered between agents. The company’s additional philosophy he adopted was “let’s do everything we can to not pit one [agent] against the other.”

The result has been the growth from less than 10 agents in the 1980s to more than 48, many of which have been with the company for 10 or more years.

Today Boice O’Neal is one of the area’s leading realty companies, with a team of elite and experienced agents. In interviews with each, Bill asks the same question he was asked so many years ago.

“It gets to the root of why we’re in this business,” Bill said. “It’s about a desire to serve people, regardless of income.”


Bill Whitehead moved to Truckee in 1979 because he felt the area had an increasing potential. “The reason I chose the Truckee side was for the company and for what I thought was the future,” Bill said. More than three decades later, Bill’s early thoughts were right.

Boice O’Neal is the leading real estate agency in Tahoe Donner in Truckee. The resort community is one of the biggest communities in the Western U.S., with 6,300 properties. Tahoe Donner is regarded as a family destination and offers amenities for all family members.

Residents of Tahoe Donner for more than 26 years, Bill and Darla recently moved, but enjoyed the amenities it offered. Hiking, skiing and golfing are some activities the couple does together.

“It’s exciting to have people come and share the reasons why we live here — which is the outdoors and the recreational opportunities.

“One of the thrills of being in this resort community for all these years is building relationships,” Bill said. “The best friends that we have are the people that we’ve met through real estate.”


Many of the Tahoe Donner homeowners come to the area with nostalgic eyes, yearning for the same peace and joy they felt vacationing with their families as children. A high percentage of the resort community’s homeowners are vacation homeowners from the Bay Area, and hope to someday call Truckee home, said Bill.

“I would say that half of the people that come here, or a third of the people that come here, have in their mind that they will move here at some point,” he said. The story plays out again and again.

“We’ve sold to not only the original people’s children, but now we’re starting to see the children of the children,” Bill said with a laugh.

Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at

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