NRS Founder Bill Parks ran his last rapid on March 5, 2023, when he passed away from natural causes at age 88. Bill was known as a businessman, river runner, and educator, but he was foremost a humanitarian. He leaves behind a 50-year legacy of serving customers and the Pacific Northwest community, steadfast in his belief that business could be a force for good in the world.
After founding Northwest River Supply, Bill moved to Moscow, Idaho, to join the faculty at the University of Idaho in the College of Business and Economics. He continued to build NRS while teaching full time, often hiring his students to assist customers, help in the warehouse, and fulfill orders.
NRS grew to become a multi-million-dollar international company, and in 2013 Bill initiated steps to protect his legacy for the future. He decided to sell NRS to his employees. He helped finance a deal to transfer all NRS stock to the company’s workers. In early 2014, NRS became 100% employee owned.
In his later years, he remained involved in the NRS business and continued to carry out his longstanding tradition of having lunch with every new employee. He became passionate about corporate tax reform and dedicated much of his time to writing policy papers and lobbying Congress. He believed that corporations had a duty to pay their fair share and he was appalled by the way many multinational companies exploited loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
Bill passed away peacefully at St. Luke’s hospital in Boise, Idaho. Even in his last days, he was discussing business with NRS managers and working on tax reform. His wife and best friend, Donna Holmes-Parks, was by his side until the end. (Jon Jonckers)