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Bill Levitt outside of the Alta Lodge

Peace and Powder Snow

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In memory of Bill Levitt: Peace and Powder Snow.

63 comments:

  1. My grandpa has been the truest role model for me throughout my life. I credit him with teaching me about thoughtfulness, critical thinking, a love of nature and place (particularly Alta!), and above all; kindness.

    It was a terrible shock to lose him last night, though it was in a place he loved and with so many people who loved him so near at hand.

    There are so many things that I regret that he will not be around for, including this present spate of powder snow, but he would be happy to know that so many people remember him now.

    Thank you for any message or story you care to leave here, and any message otherwise sent to us. Your comments are very appreciated by the family.

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  2. Oh how I will miss Bill! I was fortunate to know Bill in just the past five years--though he has treated me as a lifelong pal, just like he does everyone. We know he lived a rich and long life, still...losing Bill, perceiving that he is actually gone, is very hard.

    My images of Bill:

    --Him wearing his snappy Eisenhower-style jacket at Alta Lodge functions, looking every bit the trim and lively guy he was.

    --Reciting passages from Shakespeare from memory, on June 14, 2004, when he performed my marriage ceremony to Ted on the lodge patio. So beautiful.

    --Dinners/lunches/chats with Bill and Mimi whenever we were invited. Each time we met, it felt like no time at all had passed.

    --His wise insight into politics, his desire to always leave a place or situation better than how he found it. That includes, most certainly, the environment.

    --His respect for those less fortunate and his help in the struggle for equal rights, fair pay and justice for all.

    --The last conversation I had with Bill: It was over dinner at the season opening party in November at the lodge. As usual, Bill was deeply interested in what I was doing, what my plans were. I admitted to being a bit lost, at least professionally. He smiled and told me "you'll find your way. I know you will." Bill told me to write a book!

    Finally, to the family: I send my deepest love and sympathy for your loss. And thanks Sam, for building this blog. It's a wonderful idea and will provide fine memories.

    Bless you all,
    Holly Mullen

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  3. Bill was a wonderful mentor, particularly when I was elected mayor of Salt Lake City at the age of 36. I was very unsure of myself at first and I found myself visiting with Bill often or chatting on the phone seeking advice on a wide range of subjects. It was a bit ironic; I led the largest city in the state, Bill content with a few people at Alta. But Bill was deeply respected for his leadership by all of the mayors of Salt Lake County. Those were contentious days on issues around city expansions and county borders. Once Bill invited all of us to the Sitzmark room in the lodge, fed us a great lunch, and then said we couldn't leave until we had a solution to the boundary problems. He then took over with diplomatic skills and we agreed to a moratorium -- Bill called it a "moraltorium" on the boundary wars. We eventually solved the bigger problem with is leadership. I had the joy of conducting the marriage of Bill and Mimi at the Alta Lodge over 20 years ago. Bill returned the same favor to Holly and me in 2004. Bill's death leaves a big empty space in my head and heart. Somehow, I just can't believe he has gone. But that hollow spot will always be filled by Bill's memory so I cherish it. For the religious, Bill will inherit the heavens. For the non-religious, Bill will always be there in spirit. Vive' Bill.

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  4. I have had a long relationship with Bill. In my early days at Alta, I was aware of him- but I was young and, well, he was old! In the early 90s I became more involved with the pr work at Alta and Bill was often present at the exciting dinners hosted by Barbara Dunlea at the Alta Lodge. I grew to know and understand his story as he shared it with new friends. As the stories unfolded, I was able to more understand the presence he was, and to resolve some conflicts I had with, well, things. I love Bill and feel honored to have been his friend. Connie Marshall

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  5. Alta's long and wonderful lover, Bill, has passed. Tears are sliding down my cheeks as I smile at the memory of his life.

    We all knew and loved Bill...you could not know him and feel otherwise...and he loved us back. He kept Alta as pristine and romantic as possible so we could enjoy the most incredible and amazing skiing in the world.

    Bill skied until two years ago, played golf this summer, living his life to the fullest every single day, enjoying his life, his family and his friends until the very last moment. His was a quick wit, a brilliant mind and a huge, loving heart for all of us.

    We will miss him in ways we do not even know yet. We will see him in all the wild and sweetness that is Alta. The sparkle in his eyes will become snow crystals that glisten in the sun as we make yet another powder run; his laughter the wildflowers in Albion Basin.

    Rest well, Bill, knowing that the world is a happier, more romantic place for your having been in it.

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  6. Bill Levitt embodied everything a good leader and politician should. Always insightful and knowledgable on current events, its no wonder he had an amazing impact on everyone he met and everything he touched. The Alta Lodge is an amazing place because of this man, and further more Alta is an amazing place because of his love and dedication to keeping it simple. He fought the good fight for all of us and we all reap the benefits because of his hard work.
    I hope that Bill's influence will carry on at the lodge and in the town.
    I appreciate getting to live and work in the world the Bill Levitt created and I hope future generations will also get the same joy that we all get from this precious place.
    Without Bill, Alta wouldn't have the same magic it has today.
    Lauren Nagel

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  7. Grandpa, I miss you. You taught me so much about life, about following passion instead of doing what society wants, about being strong, and about love- for those around you, for opinions other than yours and for yourself.

    I will miss the stories you told me, the jokes (especially the spoon joke), and the love you had for the family. I fondly remember sitting in your room, just me and you, talking about life. You told me to go for it, but do what I love doing. I remember you coming out to watch me race and supporting me without question.

    There is no way to express how amazing you were. You've done so much and touched so many lives. You are Alta, you'll always be The Mayor. You've been an influence to everyone who's met you. Thank you for that.

    I am so grateful you passed in the place you loved most, the dining room, undoubtedly entertaining everyone around you, most likely with a story only you could tell, and most importantly, with the snow coming down outside.

    I am beyond proud to be your granddaughter, to be able to say I knew you and learned from you. You are the most amazing person I've ever met, and my biggest role model. I will continue to honor you by striving to be like you everyday of my life.

    I know every time I'm in Alta or Moab, you'll be there with me.

    Thank you for being my grandpa. I love you with all of my heart.
    Sara Levitt

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  8. Bill (He hated when I called him Grandpa) was without a doubt the greatest inspiration in my life. He gave me advice and insight that, while I had no idea at the time, proved to be some of the most important advice of my life. It was impossible to sit down with him for any period of time without leaving feeling like you really learned something.

    Bill was the eternal encourager. It didn't matter what you told him you planned to do, he always thought that it was a 'great idea, but here is how you may do that even better.' Bill's words have made me sure that whatever path I take, and whatever decisions I make I'll be able to trust that the they were the right ones, or at least that they will take me somewhere.

    Bill has enormous shoes to fill, and that has always been a source of inspiration for me. Last summer while on a hike in Moab with my brother, referencing conversation from the night before, my brother stopped and said "Can you believe Grandpa had both his bachelors and masters degree by the time he was our age." It didn't matter what you were discussing, Bill had his opinion, and was, at least most of the time, an authority on the subject. To me, Bill will always be the quintessential "head of the table." He helped me to sort out what sort of place arts, athletics, education, family, friends would have in my life. I think that in many ways he felt of his children and grandchildren as just the continuation of himself. He encouraged me to study chemistry in my senior year of highschool because it was something that he wished that he had a chance to really learn. Oftentimes when he was giving advice, he would do so almost in the first person, for lack of a better description. He would tell me how I would feel in different situations, and he was nearly always right.

    In search of a bit of solace I have been reading nearly everything I can find about him. In one interview he said:

    So I tell people who come here: 'You're an Alta person now. When the world gets to be too much, you feel like you have to flee, you just come to the bottom of the canyon. We'll have your name on a list, we'll close the gates, we'll point the avalanche guns down the canyon. The bad guys won't come up after you.' ''

    I remember him telling the same thing to me and some of my friends several years ago, and though I just laughed it off when he told me I find it especially important now as I sit here in Alta feeling totally unable to go back down. As long as I am here, he can still be sitting in his blue sofa chair down in Moab.

    As a final word, I saw an excerpt from "The Alta Experience" tonight in which Bill said “I hope my children or grandchildren will be able to find it and enjoy it the way I did when I first found it.” I think that we can all agree that thanks to him we have the Alta that we have today.

    Thank you all so much for the support that you have given us. Your words mean so much to the entire family.
    -Wilson Dippo

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  9. Bill and I were close friends as youths and young adults, and, after a 50+ interregnum, recently as reminiscing adults and both experiences have been stimulating and heart-warming.

    As youths in Brooklyn, I recall my friend Bill as a constant companion, whether on roller skates hitching rides behind the trolley that ran down Ocean Avenue, or playing touch-football in the lobby of our apartment house (big trouble from that one!), or the model "T" he acquired for a while which was supposed to have brakes but didn't, or our frankfurters and milkshakes from the stand on Avenue J when we had the funds.

    And the time Helen got tickets for us in the fifth row for a new show, George Gershwin's "Girl Crazy", neither Bill nor I realizing at the time the import of the occasion. That was in 1935.

    Only a few months ago were reminiscing about the era and we wondered what song brought back those more sentimental times most effectively. I stuck with my all-time favorite from the show, "Embraceable You", but Bill went for "Stardust".


    And scout camp. We both went as counselors for many years and were elected together into the honor society, "The Order Of The Arrow"..I recall this because only a few months ago Bill proudly sent me a picture of his recently found membership card he had just come across in the back of a draw, and I retaliated with a picture of mine. We were still friends, but still youthfully competitive.

    I know the renewal of the our friendship refreshed and was rewarding to me and I'm guessing that Bill got a kick out of it as well.

    I last saw Bill when he returned to New York and joined Helen in her movie making project, "The Quiet One". They needed a letterhead pronto and asked that I prepare one.

    I recall Helen saying to me, (and I don't recall the context).."Edwin, you know that Bill is a man of action".

    And from what I read of the posted testimonials, he was a man of compassion as well. A worthy combination.

    It was a life well-spent and enjoyed, and gracefully ended.

    My very best to his many responsive friends and fortunate family who were able to share and enjoy a long life with his presence.

    Edwin Kolsby

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  10. When I moved to Alta in the early eighties I could not have imagined the impact Bill Levitt and his family would have on my life. Nor could I have predicted that some twenty seven years later I'd unable to control my emotion as I attempt to share memories of The Mayor.

    As I came to know the Levitt family I was taken by the tight dynamic Bill and Mimi had with their extended family. I was also impressed with the depth of relationship Bill and Mimi had with so many of the Alta Lodge guests. Clearly this was no ordinary hotel and Bill and Mimi were not typical proprietors.

    At first I only saw this at a distance because, like most new emps I was far too busy enjoying all that the beautiful Alta environment has to offer to pay much attention to those who had worked to preserve it. Besides, at 65 the Mayor was old and far to busy to get to know all the new employees! Boy was I wrong.

    That first winter I joined Bill's son Toby and we started a company called Albion Financial Group. From today's vantage point it seems preposterous. Who in their right mind would hire a couple of young guys, cloistered in the basement of the Alta Lodge (we preferred to call it the "ground floor" of the Alta Lodge...) as managers of their financial affairs?

    Turns out all you need is one person to believe in you and that person was Mayor Bill. Day after day my partner Toby would disappear for hours to Bills quarters up behind the Sitzmark. Toby would emerge from these sessions with fresh insights into how to keep our idea moving forward. Toby, I know how much you valued those sessions. Your very special relationship with your father is a rare gift. I'm glad you had that time with him.

    For young Toby and me Bill was our mentor. He was our coach, our unofficial Chairman of the Board. However more important than all of this was is unwavering belief in us. Thank you.

    Bill took great pleasure in the success of others, regardless of the chosen endeavor. He loved seeing his children and grandchildren chase their dreams and would always be there to offer encouragement and remarkably prescient advice. But his joy in the success of others was by no means limited to his own family. He loved seeing all of us pursue our passions.

    Yet the Bill I know was not some full time cuddly bear! If he disagreed you'd know about it. But he could disagree without being disagreeable, a critical and admirable trait.

    Mr. Mayor I admire how you lived your life. You applied your keen intellect and sense of humor to preserving what you loved and caring for those around you.

    As I've been writing a sense of contentment has come across me as I think about you, your impact on me, and your great life. Well Done!

    John Bird

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  11. Julie said...

    You never know how much someone really means to you until they are gone. It's been a very sad couple of days and I've been an emotional wreck.

    Although I am not a member of the Levitt family, I have felt like one and was always treated like one. Bill and his family welcomed me as they have so many to Alta as one of theirs when I started working at the lodge in 1987. Bill and his family were so kind and generous. The years I spent there were the best of my life. The love and care given to the employees came from Bill's philosophy, a rare and special formula that makes the Alta Lodge a unique place. I learned so much from him about life, about people, about the environment, about politics and about caring... Bill, I can't thank you enough for all you did for me including marrying Tyson and me amidst the wild flowers of Albion Basin.

    I love you Bill,

    Julie Faure

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  12. We will miss Bill. He was truly a great man. Our deepest condolences to his family.

    Your Moab Friends

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  13. We really had some times didn't we

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  14. Bill and I were having lunch together one day. He said to me "My father in law once said to me.. ""Son if you make your bed hard you will turn over many times"" So I said " Bill what the heck is that supposed to mean?" He said "Beats me!"

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  15. Dear, dear, Bill--
    I only had the opportunity to work with you for four years but during that time period, you never ceased to amaze me. What an interesting person you were and what a unique life you lived during your 92 years.

    Every time I set up a media interview with you, I would always let the journalist know they were going to be speaking to a "treasure" -- this was going to be an interview like no other. Indeed they always were. Though some of the content was similar, I always learned something new on each interview I sat in on. As someone who has worked in Little Cottonwood Canyon since the early 1970's recently remarked to me, "I had no idea Bill was an Oscar nominated documentary film maker before coming to Alta." What a rich life, purpose-filled life you led. Such passion and commitment!

    Perhaps this the best way to summarize how I thought of you -- you were the epitomy of the
    renaissance man -- something many of us aspire to, but few us achieve.

    Although your body is no longer here, you will always be around in heart and spirit --the memories will last and your legacy will go on in all of those you inspired.

    At the end of the last interview we did together, the journalist commented the intervierw was the best of his career. I don't think he was exaggerating.

    Joni Dykstra

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  16. I was lucky enough to be with Bill for over 40 years. Traditionally, he would give a speach to ring in the New Year. I substituted for him this year. Here it is:

    "Thank you all for being here tonight. I asked Bill a few days ago what he was going to say tonight, and he told me that he hadn't quite figured it all out, but that he was feeling very optimistic for our country for 2010. Someone asked me the other day what Bill's occupation was. Most would say "Mayor" - but he liked to consider himself the Philosopher King. I can't wax philosophical as Bill would - he was a master at it. But I would like to share with you some of his humor. He felt that 1/2 the battle was won, whatever the battle was, if you could make them laugh. A few years ago I started keeping a log of the things he said that made me laugh out loud, and I'd like to share some of them with you.
    1. When heading back to Moab after some physical therapy for elbow tendonitis, I mentioned that I thought I'd be able to play tennis. Bill said "I don't know why - you never could before".
    2. in talking about digging for water in Alta, I asked him 'where would YOU dig" - he replied "where ever the stick points down".
    3. He said "When I become President, I'll change all the stop lights to red, white and blue."
    4. He said to me: "I think of you as a sex object. If you don't want to be a sex object, you'll either have to learn to cook, or to clean the house".
    5. While golfing, I hit a ball. Neither of us could see it ... Bill said it was because of his 'deaf perception'.
    6. We ordered an item from a catalog, and he asked when we would get it. I told him they said 3-5 working days - he asked "suppose you don't work?"
    7. we were talking about Alta's beautiful flowers. Bill said "I'm deaf - I can't smell anything".
    8. When driving to a doctor appointment, I told him that we were going to be early. He said "drive slower".
    9. his new favorite Birthday comment: "I don't know how old you are, but you sure don't look it".
    10. Bill's grandson Wilson was heading off to Bowdoin College. Bill's advice to him: "If they ask if you are Mormon because you come from Utah, say "no, but I believe in polygamy".
    11. We had ordered some special deli food from Zabars in NYC - kippered herring, nova scotia salmon and bagels. Upon the first bite I said "yummmm" - he replied "yumm kipper".
    12. One day our dog Daisy went to the post office to help get the mail. Bill wanted to know who she went with, and I told him "Marly, Liz and Ali" - his response: "it's almost worth being a dog".

    Bill was always one to look toward the future with optimism. In that vein, a line from Rainer Maria Rilke: "And now we welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been."

    Bill's toast for the New Year - Peace and Powder Snow. Bye darling ..... Mimi

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  17. I can never express in words my feelings for Bill. To thank Bill, Mimi and the family for shaping my adult life and contributing to who I am today could never be sufficient. I look at my years (1978-1985) as the best of my life. I will never forget your sage words, love of the mountains, an environmentalist of the best kind and the opportunities you gave so many. You have been a tremendous influence on my life as I reflect on the incredible man and his life. Time to rest my friend but I know I'll see you in the by and by...Thank you Bill, Jill Clark Baeder

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  18. Alta lost one of its true heroes. Bill Levitt, Patriarch of the Alta Lodge Family, and biggest protector of Alta ever, passed away. Mayor Levitt made it his personal mission to make sure Alta retained its roots and did not fall prey to the development which victimizes so many ski areas. Rest in Peace Bill Levitt.

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  20. I have had the pleasure of being Bill and Mimi's dermatologist for many years, giving what advice and treatment I could. Bill's passing has caused me to reflect on him. He influenced the lives of many and had causes that he stubbornly never gave up on. Do I think he was stubborn? Yes, but I am sure he would respond by saying, “when you are right, then it is not being stubborn”.

    I learned that he hated to wait -- something that happens more regularly than it should when patients come to see me. He learned it was best to have the first appointment of the day or come late for any other appointment. On further reflection I am not sure whether this was Mimi's or Bill's solution. When I appeared in a timely fashion there was some remark along the lines of “what is going on?”, “business is bad?”

    I recall once when I told him that a biopsy showed a skin cancer on the side of his nose and that I wanted him to see one of our skin cancer surgeons for further surgery. He asked, "why can't you do it?" “It will just mean waiting again.” I responded that I was not trained to do micrographic surgery. He said "what is that?" I explained the process to him and he said "what if you took it off using an approach that you were trained to do before the advent of micrographic surgery?" I explained what this process was and that the difference with micrographic surgery was a better chance of a cure and less of a scar. He said, “what if you don't get it all?” I said it will likely recur. His response, “then what”? I said we would have to re-excise it. His response “I am too old to care about a scar, if the risk of recurrence is less than 5%, do it now, I am not about to come and wait for another hour for that small of a risk”. This was over 15 years ago, as luck would have it the area healed with a scar that was nearly invisible, it never did recur.

    Too many days in the sun left him with a lot of pre-cancerous lesions – and me attacking him with pain inflicting liquid nitrogen. The days I would not find anything to treat would cause his eyes would sparkle, he would say thank you and immediately head for the door – fearing that I might change my mind or that Mimi would remind him of lesions she had noted.

    A giant of our community has passed. Thank you Bill for all that you have done for Little Cottonwood Canyon and for your influences beyond “your” canyon.

    Mimi, thank you for your special comments.

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  21. Bill was a very kind and tolerant man, who was willing to give anyone a chance. I can’t be sad because he is gone, but only feel glad that I knew him (and I was able to cut his lovely hair for so many years!). Watching Bill be so committed to preserve Alta made me aware of how important it is to protect the area that you love, which continues to this day for Benjamin and me—we tried to stop rampant development in Draper, and are land use advocates in Oregon.

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  23. I came to the Alta Lodge on an American Airlines Thanksgiving weekend package in 1970. I met Bill on my first night at the Lodge, in the dining room of course, and he and Mimi immediately took me under their wing, told me about the Canyon and the slopes and chose my ski instructor for the next day! The weekend turned into three weeks, and I left with a heavy heart just before Christmas - knowing the Alta Lodge had become my home away from home, and that I would never ski the east again! I became an emp in 1980. That's when I saw how much Bill meant to everyone at the Lodge and in the Canyon - and not just to me and his family. He was a mentor, advisor and supporter to so many who have written about him here. Bill managed to lead Alta's progress, while keeping it pristine - no small feat! He was a master negotiator of small and big things. He never seemed to be "rattled" by anything! He influenced everything and everyone he knew with his honesty, integrity and his thoughtful and compassionate value system. He may be gone, but the gift of those values has passed from generation to generation in the family and those of us who consider him our role model. He touched the heart of everyone who ever stayed, worked, lived and played at Alta! We will be thanking him for his influence on our lives forever. My thoughts are with the whole family. God speed Bill!

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  24. Bill Levitt to me,was the kind of man that when he walked in the room you wanted to be on your best behavior. Not because I was afraid of him but because he deserved that kind of respect.When he spoke it was important to listen.I was working at the lodge when I had the opportunity to vote for the president for my first time.The discussions in the emps room were exciting to say the least. Bill would listen and comment and make sense out of the world I was too naive to understand. I have voted in every election since.
    After reading these blogs its wonderful to see how much the grandchildren love Bill.He has helped shape so many young lives.I can say the person I am today was greatly influenced by Bill and Mimi. They both took such good care of us. I am proud to have known the Mayor and to have been a small part of his life.
    Once when I was working the front desk(with the old switch board)3 children came in the lobby with thin coats,wet sneakers and just looked lost and pitiful. I started a conversation with them and found out they were runaways. They sat by the fire and I got Bill and Mimi because I had no clue what to do.Bill had me take them to the emps room and make sure the were fed and he set out to find out were the came from. They were there for several hours but Bill contacted the foster parents and they came to retrieve the children. The dad was furious and the children were scared. Bill took the dad to his office and they had a conversation of which I was not privy to. The dad was a lot calmer when he left with the kids. He had a gift that was given to many even those who did know him. Such a loss much love and powder snow. Tracye Jeacock Webb

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  25. Mimi and The Mayor believed in me when it felt like no one else did. They saw something special in me and nurtured it for seven years of my young and confusing life, providing me with that Romantic Alta experience we are reflecting on now and cherishing.

    I became part of ACE just at its inception and with the positive response and actual success we had, I developed a faith in the democratic process and hope in social liberalism that stays with me today. For that first silent auction we had, Mimi generated a list of oh a few hundred possible contributors and as I contacted them, it was as if they were all expecting my call. Barely twenty-something, I was able to generate actual community revenue by merely mentioning my affiliation with the AL and this magical town. Always the conversation would end with my promise to give The Mayor and Mimi their best. I will follow Alta politics for the rest of my life and will always be fiercely protective and proud of it.

    After The Mayor had his bypass and began skiing again in his 80s, we would see Mimi and him all the time on the groomers. Always, he was behind Mimi and appeared to be fixated on her butt. The girls and I would giggle and hope our husbands would be that interested in our behinds when we were old. One day when The Mayor was standing at the front desk like he used to do, I asked him why he always skied behind Mimi - didn't he want to lead the charge? He chuckled and told me that in Romantic Alta, he has the best view in the world and he wouldn't change a thing. The girls and I at the desk screeched and ewwwed and blushed.

    Here's to keeping Alta romantic, Mayor! Ski you later.

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  26. It was great to see “WL” emblazoned in red torches at the top of High Rustler last night. Bill Levitt has left some big empty shoes. We were all changed by our time as employees at the AL (AKA emps at The Lodge, some of us even managed to grow up a little here). Bill created a place where we could stretch and collide and even bang heads with the big dog, the Mayor, if we chose to. But he had bigger fish to fry. In the spirit of Mayor Watson, Alf Engen, Joe Quinney, J Laughlin, Chic Morton and Bengt Sandahl he was changed by his time here; he became a partisan and spokesman for Alta. He had a passion for this place. He was determined to protect it. He understood how fragile a thing like “place” can be. He was a formidable opponent of schemers and slash-and-burn developers. He loved politics and he didn’t mind making enemies. The result was what counted. And his results are apparent: Alta doesn’t look like or feel like so many other resort towns pasted together in the prevalent industrial model. He was a fierce advocate for our mountain home.

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  27. As a kid who grew up overseas and moving frequently, a big missing factor was extended family and being part of a community. Thus the delight and joy of being able to become a part of the Alta Lodge community for three and a half years. The tone Bill set of acceptance and tolerance was pretty amazing. Those there in the early ‘70s time frame will remember the wave of born-again Christians, and Bill even tolerated that—in fact, he almost supported it recognizing we all had to work through our own beliefs as part of our own life’s journey. I can still remember sitting in the old Emp’s Room one evening having a philosophical/theological discussion with him—one that was open, engaging and supportive—where he gently challenged me to broaden my reading……and by extension broaden my thinking! When Paula and I were married he asked where the ceremony would be, and we told him we’d like to have it on the front deck of the Lodge. He said, “Fine, but after the season ends. Then you can use the pantry, walk in and kitchen to prepare your reception, as long as you clean up afterwards!” So, he let us throw the party “on the house.” A special man who will go down as another Alta legend.

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  28. I am not of the Alta community but belong to Bill's younger years. In the army we soldiered (and partied) together, and after the war he hired me as his assistant (and bodyguard) at the UAW-CIO in Detroit where he was a firebrand leader as Education Director.  Talk about charisma!  He took me under his wing, as a kind of protege - he was a born father.   Union politics was then a fierce and physical business so we bonded in turmoil and tactics.  In the postwar 1940s the UAW was the "Hollywood" of the labor movement where the decisive action was.  In no time I was reading Bill's favorite authors; copying his one-shoulder-down lope and slightly southern accent (acquired at the University of North Carolina and his govt work among tenant farmers); and avidly listening to his advice on dating girls which boiled down to whistling for taxicabs  ("Don't make them wait in the rain") and giving them birds of paradise ("Any guy can give them roses").  I baby sat for his infant sons Johnny and Jim.

    In time, Bill also asked me to come work with him and his sister Helen at his film documentary company in New York.  Bill became restless working at the slow pace of geniuses (which they were) who couldn't make up their creative minds, and we both went west in different ways, he to Alta and I to the real Hollywood.

    Like so many on this blog Bill had a fabulous impact on my young life.  I still walk the way he does and his "suthin" accent is part of my speech.

    Reading this blog what's absent is any hint of the defensive cynicism that marked both of us, and many of our friends, in the distant past, a relic of a time, especially in the Cold War 1950s, when independent-minded creatures were, or felt themselves to be, under threat.  The Bill that emerges from these contributions is a natural leader of considerable stature who built on his tumultous early experiences to be wise, ecumenical, decisive (he was always that) and incredibly sweet to young people.   Mimi first and foremost, and Alta, shaped his happiest time.

    He lives.

    Clancy Sigal

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  29. Wonderful Bill. 92 years young. Helen's younger brother gone too soon. How very fortunate everyone is that Bill lived and made the world a much better place, that he and Mimi nurtured the best in each other and were the couple we all admired and adored. We are fortunate, too, that the loss is so great. How I wish I could have known Bill, but am grateful to have known of him. Thank you, Helen. Thank you, Bill. Mimi and all who love you and whose lives were improved by your efforts and your example will keep your memory strong and your influence long.
    Carol Brower Wilhelm

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  30. John,
    I am sorry to hear about your Dad. I lost my mother last year, so I do understand how hard this is. You and your family have my condolences. Drop a line if you'd like to catch up.... rmark@slco.org
    Randy Mark

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  31. Bill,

    A life as great as yours guarantees even better adventures in the "cosmic off piste". Point them downhill, Captain!

    Lester Tobias
    Manly Men Ski Group

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  32. Tessa and I were lucky to have worked at the Alta Lodge season 1974/75. Bill's philosophy was that if the Emps were happy, then the guests would be happy. He and Mimi gave the Lodge the unique atmosphere that was (and is)so special.
    His was an extraordinary personality that changed lives and influenced everyone who was fortunate enough to meet him.

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  33. I'm grateful to Bill and all the Levitts for the great experiences they gave me at the Alta Lodge. That was in 1977, and I thought Bill was old then. Boy, was I wrong. He was just getting started.

    Joel Johnson

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  34. I was sad to hear that Bill had left the Canyon. He was already an Alta Icon when I came to the Lodge in 1967.
    He fully understood the magic of Alta, a magic that he was always willing to share. To many he gave the Alta experience with a smile. To most of us, the lucky ones, He allowed us to earn Alta which made us Alta and Alta us. With a smile...
    Jim Head
    Alta Lodge Handyman
    Alta Ski Patrol
    USFS Snow Ranger, Alta

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  35. To all friends and family of Bill:
    I have been granted the honor of penning a brief article in memory of the Mayor for Skiing Heritage. The sentiments I have read here speak volumes about the quality of the man and the scope of the lives he touched. Because the article will be for a skiing-related publication, it will perforce focus on his life in Alta. I am looking for illuminating anecdotes that would reveal his pivotal role in preserving the Albion Basin watershed, his work with Friends of Alta and of course his presiding over Alta Lodge and the Town of Alta for what seemed like two lifetimes.
    I should add a brief note of my own most vivid remembrances of Bill. When I was doing an article for SKI magazine on the Alta-Bird lift ticket union, Bill had occasion to muse about the "don't-change-a-single-thing" obsession of some of his annual guests. "They'd get a coronary if you moved a towel rack," he quipped, lamenting the difficulties he'd had trying to make even modest upgrades to the hostelry he managed with such gracious warmth for so long. Later in the same conversation, as he was trying to steer me through the maze of his strategy for preserving Alta for future generations, I was keenly aware that there wasn't an ounce of condecension or puffery in the man: he treated you with respect and made you feel part of his crusade. It's soul-satisfying to see his respect for others less accomplished than himself so touchingly repaid in these vignettes.
    Please forward any information you think I might be able to use to jhogen@7eye.com. with Bill's name in the subject line. Time is of the essence as the deadline looms.
    Thanks and may Bill's spirit forever watch over Alta. - Jackson Hogen

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  36. Jim Head wrote:

    I was sad to hear that Bill had left the Canyon. He was already an Alta Icon when I came to the Lodge in 1967.
    He fully understood the magic of Alta, a magic that he was always willing to share. To many he gave the Alta experience with a smile. To most of us, the lucky ones, He allowed us to earn Alta which made us Alta and Alta us. With a smile...

    Jim Head

    Alta Lodge Handyman
    Alta Ski Patrol
    USFS Snow Ranger, Alta

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  37. I always say that I fell in love with Alta like one falls in love with a person.

    Mayor, thank you for making Alta one of the loves of my life.

    I'll miss you and your dapper self.

    Love to all the Levitts,
    Ali

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  38. Bill married George and I on top of Albion Mountain. He created the beginning of our very happy life. Our loving memory of Bill will always be with us.
    Our deepest sympathy is for Mimi in her sorrow.
    George & Gabriella

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  39. When I got on the Wildcat lift with this old guy, I was just babbling in excitement. It was my third day at Alta and the first blue sky powder morning I'd ever experienced. I told him how I'd just scored a job at the Peruvian, how I really didn't know how to ski, but how stoked I was at how beautiful the place was and how it made me feel. At some point he laughed, slapped me on the knee and said, "we call days like this a bluebird, buddy. You're going to remember it for the rest of your life!" I found out much later that was the Mayor. And it seems he was right. My condolences to all.

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  40. Comments can also be viewed and/or submitted on the Bill Levitt Memorial Blog at blog.altalodge.com/2009/12/peace-and-powder-snow-bill-levitt.html

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  41. I served Bill Levitt as his Town Manager from 1980 through 1981. Bill touched my life and was my father figure at a time when I needed that attention the most. I credit the wisdom Bill shared with me as the source for success I have realized since I left Alta. Too bad I "totaled" Mimi's car on my way out, otherwise it would have been the perfect exit! Thanks for everything Bill, I love you. Dave Nicponski

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  42. Bill was a wonderful person. So many memories and recollected conversations over so many years, especially in the bar, will survive him. Lots of grace, gentle wisdom, and sly wit is what I recall most vividly. Condolences to Cassie and the rest of the Levittt and Alta Lodge clans. It's obvious from these comments how sorely he will be missed. Al Klingenstein

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  43. As with the rest of these entries, I am sad to hear of Bill's passing. I also will miss him, although the last time I saw him was several years ago in Moab, his memory is always with me.

    My first job in Alta was on the Ski Patrol prior to joining the Alta lodge family. In those days we ate our evening meals at the lodge. I was young and full of spit and vinegar and slept many nights passed out in the bar. Bill never commented on these actions. It wasn't until I returned from the service and started working as a bar tender that I learned how gracious Bill was. He always treated me and everyone with respect, even though sometimes I felt I may have been a thorn in he and Franks side. He always gave me words of encouragement and believed in me. He gave me my first management position and trusted in my abilities. At that time I may not have shown my true gratitude, but he was the one who shaped my life through his wisdom . Thanks Bill.

    At this time my sympathies go out to Mimi, John, Bino, Toby and Cassie.

    David Smith

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  44. Carol Hrobon PiovesanJanuary 8, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    Bill, the man who changed so many and perserved so much. He had the talent that so many desire and so few achieve.

    Working at the AL, he taught us the meaning of pride without arrogance and no where else but Alta could you work where it was better to be an "emp" than a guest.

    Thank you Bill for taking care of Alta, "a friend of Alta, is a friend of mine". While you have changed in dimension, your presence will always be felt, you are "The Spirit of Alta".

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  45. The first time I visited Alta and was lucky enough to stay at the Lodge, Bill had an enormous St. Bernard named Schaefer (I'm guessing at the spelling). The dog liked to rest wall-to-wall in the hallway leading to the guest rooms. Bill commented, "If you can't step over Schaefer, you're in no shape to ski."

    I met him a few more times over the years, always regretting that I was unable to become an "Alta regular" and spend more time in his charismatic company. Reading the tributes above makes me smile and think, "What a guy!"

    Ninety-two years is a long life, and in Bill's case, it was a good one. For deaces, he loomed large in the small world of Alta and in the lives of all he touched. And he remained vibrant and engaged until the end. He could not have planned a better scenario.

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  46. It is not an easy thing to reconcile the passing of a humanitarian giant with any notion of what seems proper or right. Our tiny world seems to bring less and less good news. Each of our times will doubtless come all too soon, but it is worthwhile to reflect on the impact of our predecessors.
    My trek through the Alta community was brief, but not without personal impact. Bill remained largely in the background, but his presence was always there. He was not particularly wordy, but his sparse words always carried extraordinary import.
    I recall well his oratory in the Sitzmark on New Year's Eve 1984. I was in a state, trapped somewhere between drowning in a beer and rapt infatuation with what was surely the most comely lass on the entire planet. Let the ball drop - let me kiss her. Why won't the clock move?
    But Bill began to speak, and the double layer of fog in my 22 year old brain cleared and dissipated. Bill began by speaking of those things of 1984 worthy of celebration. But he went on to discuss George Orwell, prior grim visions of the future, and the need to celebrate those things that had not transpired. At the height of the Cold War, Bill was keenly attuned to what freedom, in all its forms, meant to the continued quality and vitality of life. Bill had a complete appreciation for all that which was good, and the gift to share that appreciation with us masses who were blind to the beauty and meaning of life's littlest, but most important, pleasures.
    I found myself an engaged listener. The impending kiss still loomed large, but was somehow upstaged. I could wait. Talk some more.
    Midnight arrived. The kiss came. It lingered. So sweet. But Bill's words lingered longer.
    How easily we lose sight of the bigger picture. How rare and refreshing to encounter one more engaged in the greater good than personal ego. May we all do half as well. Peace.

    Rob

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  47. I first met Bill when I worked with Toby and John in Albion when it was located in basement quarters called Tyrol at the Lodge. Bill would come down to the office every day around 2:00 pm to pick up the closing prices on his portfolios when the stock market closed. It was a great experience working in an office located in the Alta Lodge. When the market was tanking no one could jump out the window since we were located in the basement, though John would say that to people on the phone!

    I know my sister Barbara Dunlea, who also worked at AL really appreciated Bill when he regularly participated with media events. She described him as an asset to the marketing program. When my parents went to the AL for dinners or the annual ski club party, my Dad loved to chat up the Mayor with stories about North Carolina--my Dad's home state.

    It was a pleasure knowing him. My husband Jay and I enjoyed his hospitality. What a great person! I'm sure you all miss him very much. Peace to all.

    Denise (Denny) and Jay Sessions

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  48. I very briefly heard of Bill's passing when I came up for the torchlight on New Years Eve. I don't think I really believed it at the time.

    Bill touched everyone he met. He was a remarkable man, with a wonderful spirit. I haven't seen him since we moved back from Bend, and now wish I would have stopped in at the AL and said "hi" sometime this fall.

    Cheers, Bill. I'll think about you next time I'm on top of the High Boy looking down at that little family lodge you so lovingly led.

    -Bruce Ewert

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  49. Bill taught me to discern the importance of small government from the rest of government, the value of tailored authority and the necessity of helping others in a small environment. I offer condolence to us all. I will miss him.

    David Beattie

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  50. My niece in Salt Lake City sent me Bill's obituary, and I am so sad. From the time of my first visit to Alta Lodge in 1976 Bill was an inspiration to me and showed me that age does not have to limit skiing or any other healthful activities. I last saw Bill during my last visit to Alta Lodge in February 2007, when he talked about the history of Alta. And I said to myself "I hope I could be half as articulate and alert as he when and if I get to be around 90". I am 87 1/2 now and still hoping! My thoughts are with Mimi and his family

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  51. If my memory is correct, I first met Bill Levitt during the McGovern campaign in 1972.

    And the politics continued for, well, the next 38 years: Ralph McClure, Wayne Owens, Ted Wilson, Scott Matheson, more Ted Wilson, Karen Shepherd, Peter Corroon and, of course, Obama.

    Along the way, Bill asked me to serve on the Alta Planning Commission - and that was about 25 years ago.

    We kidded Bill about the "lip lock." That was when he would plant himself at your table in The Lodge and carry on and on about this and that. Admittedly, however, I always got engaged.

    You are indeed, Bill, one of a kind. We'll miss you.

    Skip Branch

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  52. Alta is a special place in the hearts of many people. It has been so for me since my first visit in 1968 and in the 40 plus years since I have returned nearly every winter. Alta is really 2 elements to me - the incredible beauty of the Albion basin and the wonderful spirit of the people who make the resort possible. The Alta Lodge and Bill and Mimi are for me at the core central to my experience of Alta. I enjoyed over the years many chance encounters with Bill, in the Sitzmark, over lunch or dinner, even on the lift. He was always a charismatic, observant, and compassionate man who made even someone who he had only just met feel as welcome as an old friend. His wit and humor were as dry as Alta powder, and his marvelous observations on so many subjects could leave you wondering how he became such a person, and more importantly how you could become more like him.

    I feel very fortunate to have passed through the world when it was occupied by such great spirit, and will reflect upon my good fortune in getting to spend some time with Bill.

    Kurt Taylor

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  53. To those who knew and loved Bill,

    A visit to the Alta Lodge was never complete without one of those deep conversations with Bill. I have enjoyed Bill's company over the last 30+ years as I first visited the "Alta Experience" as a young medical student and have never missed an opportunity to visit since. Toby, Bino, Marti, Marcus, Cassie, and everyone in the "Alta Family" filled in the nooks and cranies of my life with their uncanny ability to quickly get to the sense of things, so much like Bill.

    I will keep Bill in my heart as part of those great experiences in life that just filter to the top of your mind in a idle moment of thought. Bill, your wonderful spirit will live on in all those you touched.

    Steven Siepser

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  54. My deepest condolences to his family and long time friends.

    Bill used to walk around the lodge telling people that if the shit hits
    the fan head up to Alta. He claimed he had a list and we where all on
    it. Once we all showed up we would block off the canyon and use the
    avalanche cannons to stand our ground!

    I honestly felt that the world was safer with Bill in it.

    I will miss his presence...

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  55. One of Bill's favorite books was Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Gray - and rightfully so because Bill was as close as they come to the hero, Lassiter, who cried "Roll back the Rock and keep us here forever together" at the top of a lost canyon in Utah. It was a cry of love for the land and of defience against those who would and spoil it's beauty
    I directed Riders with Ed Harris and I sent a copy to Bill. The best review I every got was from him...simply "That's the way it ought to be..."
    Just look up on the mountains and he's there guarding it all.

    Charles Haid

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  56. This past summer I fulfilled my lifelong dream of staying at the Alta Lodge. I was in Salt Lake City for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in June, and came in early to spend a couple of days in the canyon. What an incredible experience! The Lodge is a home more than a hotel; I felt so welcome. It was just a couple of months after Helen had died; her photography books in the lobby opened her world to me.
    My days of skiing are past, but I did spend a memorable week in Utah in 1996 (flew into 24 inches of fresh powder, had a few bluebird days) skiing many of the areas, but Alta was then, as it was last summer, as special as my father always said—the original, and retaining the spirit of the mountains and the best of days gone by.
    My condolences to the Levitt and Alta family, and my best wishes for keeping the Mayor's dream alive and unspoiled. I'll be taking a membership in Friends of Alta in his honor—I wish I had done it right when I got home and not procrastinated until it becomes my own small memorial. Peace and Powder Snow!

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  57. Bill was a treasure and will be sorely missed.

    Ellen Temby
    Don Temby
    Jim Toney
    Gene Tankersley
    Dr. Tom Sharp
    Annual Alta Lodge lovers from 2001 - 2008

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  58. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  59. My family began our AL relationship twenty years ago. Because of the love and warmth Bill and Mimi shared with us we decided to make our Christmas visit to Alta Lodge an annual family tradition. The first year it was the four of us, but we were soon joined by friends and other family members and one year our Christmas buffet table hosted 32 "Altaholics". Bill always came by to visit and share his wit and wisdom. We gained so much from our many chats--the simplest of which was learning the correct way to pronounce Alta! and perhaps the greatest of which was engaging in conversation that seemed to elevate you. When Bill spoke you listened, knowing you would come away richer from his words. But he was not a lecturer; rather, he listened attentively to you as well. At the end of our many discourses we hadn't solved the world's problems but we were optimistic that through effort, faith and an unwillingness to accept that which we found unacceptable simply because the fight would be hard, we felt empowered.
    Bill cared deeply for his beloved Alta, for protecting Alta from encroachment and snowboarders, for his family and the Lodge community. We were privileged to know him and will miss him
    so very much, but also feel that he will always be a wonderful presence in our lives.

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  60. My comment is late because I just got the news from Mimi. The last time I saw Bill was during
    a wonderful evening visiting with Mimi and Bill
    in July 2008. It was always such a privilege
    being with him. We talked about politics part of the time although that was preaching to the choir.

    I'll add to Mimi's anecdotes about Bill's humor. A sauna was in the process of being added to Alta Lodge. One winter Bill announced
    to the guests that the sauna was partially completed--The part where we roll in the snow.

    I'll miss him.

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  61. Bill interviewed me for a job in late summer, 1970. I was so very young and confused and in spite of that, he hired me! As he did with all of us, Bill seemed to keep an eye on me and I can see that "eye roll" he had as I grew up at Alta Lodge. After many years there, I had the good fortune to take on the baker's position. He said, "This is your opportunity to do something great. Get training, buy books, I'll pay for it. Learn what you need to get good at this." I can't begin to explain how many ways Bill influenced my path. Sadly, I was not aware of his passing until recently. A bit out of the loop. But, there's not a day that goes by that I don't have some experience that goes straight back to my early roots in Alta. As a shuttle driver in Zion Nat'l Park, I have to check myself every time I announce that we are approaching Zion Lodge...I'm sure someday I'll slip and say 'Alta Lodge' from such a deep habit! Bill hasn't gone far away. A joke he told us: A visitor in Hawaii asked a "local", "How do you pronounce it: Hawaii or Havaii?" The guy says, "Havaii". "OK, thanks." "You're Velcome." What an amazing experience to have known Bill. Lots of love and great memories going out from me to the extended Levitt and Alta Family. Donna Holt

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  62. At an impressionable period in my life Bill Levitt left his imprint on me and for that I'm very lucky and forever grateful. He taught me lessons in leadership, citizenship, goodness, responsibility, humility ... his virtues were numerous. He challenged others to do the best they could and strive for purpose in life beyond one's self. He was one hell of a roll model for me and many others I know. He helped point me in a direction that, in retrospect 40 years later, seems the best path I could have taken. And I love Bill for that.

    I don't remember the date in early '73 but I remember sitting in his office as he said to me "Mr. Phillips, do you aspire to be a 50 yr. old handyman or do you want to make something of yourself?". I'm sure I couldn't picture myself being 50. I'm sure I figured at the time that one could do a lot worse than reaching the age of 50 at the Alta Lodge. But I bet that I could see the correct answer here was going to be option number 2.

    Bill proceeded to convince me to return to college, get some education and become a productive member of society. He also suggested that city planning or administration would be a good course of study and I could then help him with the affairs of the new town - Alta. I think I was a bit of a disappointment deciding on computer science as my major but I knew he approved none the less.

    Years later I got to tell him how much I appreciated his advice and guidance and the positive impact he had on my life. He seemed uncomfortable accepting my praise. But he gave me a wink, nod of his head and a slight bow. That's how I'll always remember him.

    Now, with his passing, I regret that I'd seen him infrequently over the last 40 years. Some people just seem to drift away and I must be one of them. But with his passing I've reached out to renew old friendships. We were a big extended family back then and, though the patriarch is gone, those ties are still there. I'm sure that over the years that family – by blood or by association – has gotten very large. I look forward to meeting everyone I can.

    I promised Mimi back in April that I'd complete my small tribute to Bill and blog it. Its taken me longer than it should have but I'm glad to be able to share my warm and loving remembrances of Bill. Peace and Love to all.

    Paul Phillips 1968-1973
    handyman, bartender, wine steward, family chauffeur

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  63. Do you need some info on a affordable health billing? Then doing research on the internet should help you out. Good luck!

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