William Parsons ’67
Educator, historian, and humanitarian William Spencer Parsons ’67 died Dec. 23, 2016, at age 71. He retired in 2015 as chief of staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., after 25 years of service.
A tribute posted on the museum’s website said in part, “While studying history at Cornell College, one of Bill’s professors, a Holocaust survivor, challenged him to understand the complexities of the Holocaust, and thus began his lifelong journey as a Holocaust educator.”
Parsons dedicated his life to justice issues and received national recognition for his leadership in bringing the lessons of genocide, the Holocaust, and other crimes against humanity to teachers, students, and the public.
After earning his history degree from Cornell and a master’s in teaching from the University of Wisconsin, he co-founded the Massachusetts-based Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, the nationally recognized teacher training program. Before becoming chief of staff, he founded and directed the museum’s education program. His numerous published works include “Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views” (co-editor, 1997).
Parsons was the recipient of numerous awards for his leadership and publications, including Cornell’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, their son, and two grandchildren.