Bill Parks, founder and president of Moscow, Idaho-based Northwest River Supplies (NRS), died of natural causes on March 5, 2023, at the age of 88.
Parks led NRS for more than 50 years. He started the whitewater company in 1972, using $2,000 of his own money to buy enough gear to fill a garage.
The popular waterproof product Bill’s Bag has been available since 1977.
As NRS grew into a multimillion-dollar international company, Parks helped finance a deal to transfer all NRS stock to the company’s workers, and in 2014 the company became 100% employee owned.
“Bill was drawn to rivers, to the beautiful places they carried him, to the challenge of running rapids, and to the people and experiences that made every trip a memory to cherish,” the company posted on its website.
“He leaves behind a 50-year legacy of serving customers and community, people and the planet, steadfast in his belief that business can be a force for good in the world.”
He was still discussing business in his final days, according to the company.
“Bill took pleasure in celebrating NRS’s 50th anniversary last year and reflecting on the company’s progress, saying, ‘I’m proud to say that NRS is truly led by its people. Sometimes you guys tell me that I’m important to the company, and I pretend to believe it. But it’s about the people at NRS now.’”