Valley loses ‘best friend’ in Bill Henderson
The announcement that Bill Henderson was named Carson Valley Inn sales director was published on Valentine’s Day 1985, beginning a 35-year love affair with Douglas County that lasted until his death from pancreatic cancer on Labor Day.
“Bill loved his work at the Carson Valley Inn so much that at his insistence he kept working until he was physically unable to,” Minden chiropractor Skip Pardee wrote on Labor Day. “I bet at least a dozen men in Carson Valley are saying the same thing: ‘Today I lost my best friend.’ That’s the way Bill was.”
Henderson, a long-time Minden resident, died of pancreatic cancer on Monday. He was 73.
Born March 12, 1947, in New York City, Henderson graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1969. He cut his teeth in marketing in Ohio, where he was central in the early years of development of the Dayton Air Show. He also became an instrument rated pilot.
After visiting his sister at South Lake Tahoe in 1981, he heard the Sierra call.
“One day after visiting my sister, I went home and sold my sports car, rented out the house, resigned from my job, put all my furniture in storage, and my dog and I took a month to get out here in a motorhome,” he said in that 1985 R-C article.
His work resumé only lists two entries, advertising and promotions manager at John’s Tahoe Nugget from 1981 to 1984, then director of sales at the Carson Valley Inn from 1985 to 2020.
His contribution to Douglas County’s tourism industry, however, has been unmatched over the past 35 years.
“Throughout his career, Bill worked hard building the tourism industry and was a large part of what we know Douglas County tourism to be today,” friend and colleague Matt Carter said. “He was also passionate to giving back and serving his community and his company.”
He was one of the founders of the Carson Valley Marketing Council, served as chairman of the Carson Valley Visitors Authority and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Advisory Council.
A former president of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Minden Rotary, he was named citizen of the year by the chamber and The Record-Courier in 2012. He first joined the chamber’s board of directors in 1990.
He was serving as president of the Business Council of Douglas County when he died on Monday.
He was a long-time member of Reno Tahoe Territory’s regional marketing efforts.
“Work life balance is well-defined in the examples Bill set through his life,” Carter said. “Bill’s friends will tell you he was the most thoughtful man they knew, always remembering little things like everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. From this point forward, our remembrance of Labor Day will always be of a life well lived with many friends and wonderful family side by side with a storied career.”
He is survived by wife of 29 years, Dawn, stepdaughter Lindsay Knox, grandchildren Paisley and Grady and sisters Linda D’Amato and Ellen Henderson.
Donations in his name may be made to the Carson Valley Community Food Closet at thefoodcloset.org, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Advisory Council at dcsheriffsadvisorycouncil.org and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at pancan.org/donate.