Dr. Nils Parson, Thoracic Surgeon and founding member of the Cardiac Surgery Program at Concord Community Hospital (John Muir Concord), peacefully passed away in his sleep on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joyce, brother John, sisters Rose Parson (deceased), Mary Makasoff and many nieces and nephews.
Nils was born on June 26, 1934 in Benito, Manitoba, Canada to Nils and Catarina Parson. He started life in a small log cabin on a family farm with no running water or electricity. He attended college at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and then the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for his Doctorate in Medicine. He later interned at St. Jospeh Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan through the University of Michigan. He completed his general surgical residency at Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco, CA. He met his wife Joyce there while her father was having heart surgery. They later married in 1966. Nils then went on to complete his thoracic and cardiovascular surgical residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Following his cardiovascular residency in 1968, the decision was made to return to the San Francisco Bay Area so that Joyce could continue her teaching career and Nils could establish a much needed cardiac surgery program in the East Bay. In 1969, with the financial backing of Joyce's mother, Nils purchased a heart lung machine and with his team in place, established the California Heart East Bay Medical Group. By 1972, they were performing open heart surgeries at the Concord Community Hospital (John Muir Concord) and making history. Nils was working as a doctor up until age 80 and loved every minute of it.
While Nils was in residency in San Francisco, he also earned his Private Pilot's License. After gaining experience and flight hours, he eventually earned his Commercial Multi-Engine Instrument rating and owned several twin engine aircraft as well. His last aircraft was a Piper Aerostar 700P which he absolutely adored and flew all over the country. This included semi-annual trips to his home town in Canada every year to work with his brother John on the family farming operation. Nils had over 4,000 flying hours and was passionate about flying. He also owned a Fixed Base Operation at the Santa Rosa Airport where he became an aircraft dealer for Piper and Cessna Aircraft. Nils flew weekly out of Concord’s Buchanan airport in his Aerostar, sometimes to lunch or dinner or for a longer trip cross country to medical conventions and even Alaska. He never tired when talking about flying and was always ready to fly.
Nils also had a passion for travel and went all over the world on many adventures. He circled the world twice on tour and loved his numerous trips to Africa to explore the wonders of that amazing continent.
Dr. Nils Parson helped many many people live a longer life and he enjoyed life to the fullest. He will be sorely missed by family and friends. One of his favorite poems in aviation ended with: "To fly west my friend, is a flight we all must take for a final check."
If the spirit moves you, donations can be made in honor of Dr. Nils Parson to:
The Diablo Vista Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 292, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Alzheimer's Association, alz.org.
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