Lasting Memories

Peter R. Voll
July 3, 1943-Dec. 14, 2012
Palo Alto, California

Peter R. Voll passed away peacefully at his home in Palo Alto on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. He was surrounded by his wife and four children. He was known as "Pete" to his family and friends and as "Papa Pete" to his seven grandchildren. Peter is survived by his wife, Suzanne Hardt Voll; mother, Alva Staniford; stepmother, Nona Voll; daughters, Vicki Voll of Capitola and Sara Voll of Hawaii; stepson, Jay Backstrand of Palo Alto; stepdaughter, Kendall Nash of Mill Valley; grandchildren, Ian, Kaylor, O'rian, Alden, William, Jay and Dylan; and by brothers, John Voll, Bob Staniford, Tom Staniford and David Staniford; and stepsister, Lynne Chase.

Peter was an avid reader and never missed his daily New York Times, Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle. He was passionate about travel, politics, history, culture and good food.

Born July 3, 1943, in Imperial, Calif., Peter grew up in the town of Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley and was a proud fourth generation Californian. In high school, Peter was a gifted athlete and Student Body President. He competed in track, football and basketball and was the conference high-jump champion in 1961. He was also the starting quarterback his senior year, and had a life-long love of football that he shared with family and friends.

In 1962, Peter moved to Palo Alto, Calif., to attend Stanford University. After receiving his B.S. in political science in 1965, he worked in eight Congressional races, the 1972 Presidential Primary, and a 1982 U.S. Senate race. In 1972 Peter joined the Stanford Alumni Association as a marketing executive for the Stanford Alpine Chalet and soon after became the Business and Advertising Manager of the Stanford magazine. In 1974 he became director of the Association's fledgling Travel/Study Program, where he spent the next 18 years developing it into one of the premier alumni travel programs in the United States.

Peter's professional vision was to open roads to understanding of different societies and cultures through tourism. In 1992 he left Stanford to devote full-time to Peter Voll Associates (PVA), which was merged in 2002 with another educational tour operator, High Country Passage. During his career, Peter designed and implemented more than 200 different educational tours to U.S. and worldwide destinations. He launched a number of travel industry firsts including tourist trips to the People's Republic of China, alumni tours to Burma, and tours to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2002-03, PVA operated several trips to Cuba for alumni associations and museums.

In 2007 Peter organized the first Global Warming and Climate Change Symposium in the Russian Arctic on the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, led by Tom Brokaw and Forrest Sawyer. In 2009, he designed the first World Leaders Symposium in the Arabian Gulf led by former Secretaries of State and Defense James Baker III and William Perry. Peter also served as a consultant in developing itineraries and educational tours for a number of tour companies, including Special Expeditions (now Lindblad Expeditions), Clipper Cruise Line, TCS Expeditions and Zegrahm Expeditions. After retiring from High Country Passage, Peter served as a consultant to the National Geographic Society and the Discovery Channel in the development of their travel programs. He set up and managed the Chief Executives Organization's cruise program in the Arabian Gulf and was adviser to the FORTUNE Global Forums Cultural Tours.

Peter was dedicated to his field and his community and had deep sentiment for his family and roots. He served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Educational Travel Conference and the Travel Committee of the Commonwealth Club, and was for decades a devoted member of the Palo Alto University Rotary Club. He was married for 34 years to Suzanne. Suzanne was his constant companion, providing tremendous support to Peter throughout his career.

Peter loved his family deeply. He was a cherished friend and respected mentor to many of his colleagues. His enthusiasm to know and understand the world he lived in was contagious. His family and friends find solace in knowing that Peter is just off scouting another amazing trip. He will be missed.

From Bill Johnson
Jan. 2, 2014

I was just thinking of our times in CUHS. I didn't know of Pete's passing. What a wonderful person as a young man he always treated me with respect. I can still remember him riding around in that little Bantan car, tell it through a rod out the side of the block, What good times we had in Coalinga back in the 50 &60's. Rest in peace Pete. Your Friend Bill Johnson