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Bill Closs

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Bill Closs Obituary
Bill Tom Closs
January 9, 1922 - June 6, 2011
Resident of Palo Alto
Bill Tom Closs, beloved husband of Gini Closs for 65 years, father of Bill Closs, Linda Hovis and Libby Hatfield, grandfather of Ben, Ginna, Brian, Steve, Chris, Liz, Becca, Sarah and Megan, passed away peacefully of natural causes at home in Palo Alto, CA at the age of 89. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Lillian Closs of Edge, Texas and his brother, J.R. Closs of Waco, Texas.
Born in the small country town of Edge, Texas, Bill was the first of his family to attend college when he accepted an athletic scholarship to Rice University. After achieving fame as an All-American basketball player in his senior year, Bill enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific during World War II. During that time he met and wed Virginia Rooke of Pasadena, CA. After the war he became one of the first players in a new professional basketball league, the NBA. After six years of pro ball as a player for the Ft. Wayne Pistons and Philadelphia Warriors and a stint as the player-coach of a new team in Houston, Texas, Bill and Gini moved to California. There he started his career in the sporting goods business with United Sporting Goods, later joining Converse as a promotional representative. In 1962 he founded his own sales agency, Bill Closs and Associates. In 1968, he became one of the four distributors for the Adidas brand in the United States, covering the thirteen western states. Clossco, the distributor, flourished under his leadership. In 1985, Adidas bought the Clossco distribution business from Bill and his partners. After Clossco, Bill continued his interest in the sports world by investing in several start-up businesses including US Sports, the leading provider of youth sports camps in the United States. He also realized a lifelong dream by acquiring and operating the historic Snowcrest Ranch near Alder, Montana. After retiring from the ranch business, he and Gini continued to live part of each year at their idyllic home on Flathead Lake, Montana. As big fans of Stanford University and Rice University athletics they attended many events and funded several athletic scholarships. Bill and Gini were tennis players and long time members of the Foothills Tennis and Swim Club. Bill was a golfer with memberships at Los Altos Golf and Country Club, Eldorado Country Club and Eagle Bend Golf Club. His love of the outdoors found expression in fly-fishing, hunting and membership in the Boone and Crockett Club. Bill was inducted into the Rice University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Sporting Goods Agents Association Hall of Fame.
Bill Tom Closs was often called Big Bill. He lived life large. He will be remembered as a loving husband, a devoted family man, a true friend and an inspiration to all who knew him or worked with him. He will be sorely missed.
The family will hold a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, please direct any donations to the Bill T. Closs Scholarship Fund, c/o U.S. Sports, 750 Lindaro St., #220, San Rafael, CA 94901, attn: Charlie Hoeveler.


Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on June 12, 2011
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