02/08/2019: "SJICF Remembers Eric Parsons"
December 6, 1948~ January 9, 2019
Eric Parsons, beloved leader and friend of the San Juan Island Community Foundation staff and board, passed away on January 9, 2019, in Portland.
Eric was recruited to join the board of SJICF in January 2016. His fellow board members and the SJICF staff quickly realized Eric was the type of leader who could help the Foundation evolve and grow. He was elected Board Chairman in July 2017.
Eric’s warmth and welcoming style helped create a strong sense of community at the Foundation, especially with and among the nonprofit organizations. He generously dedicated his time, advice and knowledge while serving on a wide variety of committees at the Foundation.
Above all, he was a kind, gracious and generous leader and neighbor.
Carrie Unpingco, Executive Director at SJICF said, “I was fortunate to work closely with Eric as he helped transform the Foundation from primarily board-driven to a much more staff-run organization. Because of his quiet but effective guidance and expertise, we’re stronger than ever and positioned for growth. Eric was exceptionally generous and an excellent mentor. We will miss his skillful leadership and his wonderful stories about the time he spent with his wife Janet and his children and grandchildren on San Juan Island. He will be greatly missed by our board, staff and all who knew him.”
Eric was born Dec. 6, 1948 in Klamath Falls, Ore., to Betty (Kanine) and Frank Parsons. He spent his childhood in Southern Oregon and Northern California and graduated from Thomas Downey High School in Modesto, Calif. He enjoyed hiking, camping and fishing all across the region with Yosemite National Park being a favorite family location. He then went on to earn a degree in political science from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, graduating in 1970.
Eric began a deeply fulfilling 40 year career at The Standard in 1968 as part time editor of the company's internal newsletter and then spent several years working in the Investments Division. In 1979, he was married to Janet Montag of Portland and became a father to Janet's two children Evan and Carrie. The family welcomed daughter Katie in 1980. Around that time, Eric became the head of the Mortgage Banking Division at Norris, Beggs & Simpson. He later went into commercial real estate development at Quadrant Corp. and Cornerstone Columbia Development Co., both subsidiaries of Weyerhaeuser.
Eric was pleased to be recruited back to The Standard to lead the Real Estate and Mortgage Loans Division and went on to hold several additional positions including Vice President of Investments, and Chief Financial Officer. In 2003 Eric began serving as The Standard's President and Chief Executive Officer, a position he held until his retirement in 2009. He also served as Chairman of StanCorp Financial Group, Inc., and Standard Insurance Company boards of directors from 2004 to 2011.
A recurring theme throughout Eric's life was how he expressed his closely held value of community service. Over the years, he served as board chair of the San Juan Island Community Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, the Oregon Health Policy Board and the Portland Opera, among many others. He was also a trustee of Lewis & Clark College.
Eric and Janet relished spending time with numerous friends and family, much of which centered around their favorite places including the Oregon Coast, Palm Desert and traveling to a variety of international destinations. A most beloved travel destination was aboard a sailboat in and around the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. They purchased a vacation home on San Juan Island overlooking Spieden Channel in 2006, which they made their permanent residence in 2015. They loved nothing better than having friends and family visit them there. This was especially true of the four grandchildren they welcomed together: Owen in 2008, Charlie in 2011, Stanley in 2013 and Trudy in 2015.
The island property became a beloved meeting point for the family. Some most cherished island memories include holidays such as Christmas, daughter Katie's wedding to Rob Hennis, happy hours and s'mores by the fire pit, picking apples and taking grandkids for rides on the lawnmower. Eric and Janet enjoyed spotting the bald eagles and orcas that could be seen from kayak, from their favorite boat, the Blue Moon, or even from the shore.
Eric was preceded in death by his father, Frank Parsons; mother, Betty Kahle; and stepfather, Les Kahle.
He is survived by his wife, Janet Parsons; stepmother, Sarah Parsons; children, Evan, Carrie Tilson (Ian) and Katie Hennis (Rob); grandchildren, Owen and Charlie Tilson and Stanley and Trudy Hennis; sister, Karen Parsons Arnold (Phil); stepbrother, Dale Andert (Sara); and stepsisters, Judy Dixon (Scott), Jeannette Gansberg (Jim), Laurie Boccard (Rick) and Pat Kahle (Bill Reimert); as well as many nieces and nephews.
If you wish to make a donation in honor of Eric, contributions may be mailed to SJICF, PO Box 1352, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 or at SJICF.org.