David S. Paresky, Class of 1960
Received the Bicentennial Medal in 2012
David Paresky is considered the man who largely made the travel industry what it is today. As a scholarship student from Bennington, Vt., at Phillips Academy, Paresky ran a travel concession, organizing spring break trips to Bermuda. He continued the business successfully while at Williams and then at Harvard, where he earned a J.D. in 1963 and an M.B.A. in 1965. He and his wife Linda then started Crimson Travel, which quickly grew to become the largest travel agency in New England. In 1988, Crimson merged with Heritage Travel to become the sixth-largest agency in the nation. In 1993, the Pareskys merged again with Thomas Cook Travel to become the third-largest travel company in the U.S. As CEO, he grew Thomas Cook’s sales to $2 billion annually by acquiring the corporate travel accounts of industry giants such as Ford Motor Company, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., Hewlett Packard, and Fidelity Investment. He is also known widely for his visionary philanthropy.