Obituary: Willem George Constantin Parson
January 9, 1931 – July 25, 2015
Willem (Bill) George Constantin Parson passed away in his sleep July 25, 2015 at his home on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore.
Bill was eighty-four 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 eventual move to 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 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 Woodstock School in Missouri, India as that country struggled through a violent partition. Bill followed his brother Henk to Hope College in Holland Michigan where he completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He continued his studies towards a Master’s Degree in Economics at the University of Michigan. Bill then joined his brother in San Francisco where he found employment and permanent US residence status working for the new Indian Government Tourist Office.
In 1961, Bill and his friends partnered to build a cabin at Donner Lake. Bill 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 Mr. 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, operated and organized 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 US citizenship.
In 1978, Bill was asked to take over operations at Granlibakken. Bill took the 74 acre operation near Tahoe City out of bankruptcy to a very successful 200 room condominium complex with a 450 person state of the art conference center and a reputation for superior service. Bill maintained the ski operations in the valley preserving Granlibakken as California’s the oldest ski area in continuous operation.
Bill was a community leader involved in most aspects of North Lake Tahoe’s visioning and planning working with the Placer County Board of Supervisors, Tahoe City Chamber of Commerce, Breakfast Club, community members, educators and charities with unbounded energy. Bill was a longstanding member of the Tahoe City Rotary Club and Rotary Yacht Club which he supported with the full measure of his private and corporate resources. Bill was an employer who cared immensely for his employees, encouraging and enabling their success in education, family and life in general.
He loved to tell the stories and we loved to listen. And during all of these years he dreamed, he imagined, he conceived (and misconceived), he worked and he dreamed again. The combination was infectious!
In 2010, Bill was diagnosed with cancer and given four months to live. He had cancer and he beat it, sort of. He got older faster after that, but he was still Bill! It was sometimes harder to recognize, but he was there. And there is a big difference between four months and five years plus five months. He had a life and we shared in it.
Bill is survived by his wife Norma, his brother Hendrik, his sister Christina and an extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews in Alaska, Oregon, California, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
A celebration of life will be held August 30th, 2015 at 3:30PM at Granlibakken. The family encourages you to mail or e-mail stories and photographs for inclusion in the celebration — firstname.lastname@example.org.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation/Cancer Center.