Eric Edmond Parsons passed away at the age of 70 on Jan. 9, 2019, in Portland, Oregon.
Eric was born on Dec. 6, 1948, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, 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, California. 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 and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, 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, Oregon, 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.
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 a kayak, from their favorite boat, the Blue Moon, or even from the shore.
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 many organizations in Oregon. He joined the board of the San Juan Island Community Foundation in 2016 and became chair in 2017. Eric is remembered by the staff, board members, collaborators and community members as an experienced and respected leader. His mentorship strengthened both local relationships and the organization’s capacity to serve the San Juan Island community.
Eric is 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), and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service and celebration of Eric’s life was held at the Agnes Flanagan Chapel at Lewis and Clark College in Portland on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions in Eric’s memory to the San Juan Island Community Foundation Healthy Community Granting Fund which supports a range of important projects on San Juan Island (made out to SJICF, PO Box 1352, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, https://sjicf.org).