John Norlander Obituary (1930-2021) – Hilton Head Island, SC


John Norlander
November 19, 1930 – October 11, 2021
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina – John Allen Norlander passed away on October 11, 2021 at the age of 90 on Hilton Head Island.
John was born on November 19, 1930 in Waukegan, Illinois. He grew up with his parents Everett Carl and Anna Hall Norlander in Park Ridge, Illinois, and graduated from Maine East High School. He attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota for two years. On the advice of industrialist and billionaire Henry Crown, he moved to Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, where he graduated in 1953.
A decision by the drafting committee delayed his entry into the hotel industry for several years. He enlisted in the Navy and began his service at the Great Lakes Naval Station north of Chicago. There he met his future wife Diana Dahl. Their advertisement had to wait, however, when he attended officer candidate school in Newport, Rhode Island, and then protected the Taiwan-China strait on the USS Boxer during the Korean conflict.
When John returned to Chicago from his service, he courted Diana for six months until they were married in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in June 1957. They were happily married for over 62 years and had four children: Lisa (1958), Erik (1960.). ), Krist (1964) and Britt (1973).
John began his hotel career at Hilton Hotels and the family spent 20 years in the United States, including locations in Chicago, Washington, DC, St. Paul, and Beverly Hills. While running various Hilton hotels, John met with presidents, world leaders, astronauts, athletes and the Hollywood elite. In 1975, John left the Beverly Hills Hilton and returned to the Midwest with the family to become Vice President of Radisson Hotels. He spent the remainder of his career there, rising to President of Radisson and later CEO of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide and leading chains such as TGI Fridays and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. John’s commitment and vision had a lasting impact on the company. Under his leadership, Radisson grew from eight hotels to the global hotel chain it is today. He founded the luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas and opened a Radisson in Moscow in the mid-1980s: the first American-run hotel in the USSR gave him the opportunity to travel the world, with Diana often accompanying him on his adventures.
John retired from Radisson in 1997 and moved to Sea Pines on Hilton Head with Diana, but his adventures were far from over. His “business plan” for retirement included developing his painting talent, learning to play golf, relearning Spanish, and learning to play the cello. He was an active member of the Hilton Head Art League and continued to do business with positions on the board of directors of Sea Pines Corporation and Tide Pointe.
However, his biggest retirement goal was to settle in a home that attracted frequent visits from his children and grandchildren, which eventually spread to the US and Europe. He and Diana cherished family time: Lisa and Ferdinand Pranckh with their grandchildren Max and Erik; Erik Norlander with granddaughters Katie and Taya (Logan Schmidt) and great-grandchildren Rhett and Cohen: Krist and Laurie Norlander with granddaughters Lacey and Lexi and grandchildren Kristopher and Kaeden; and Britt and Coen Van der Woude with their grandchildren Wessel and Lars. As his family mourns their great loss, they are comforted with fond memories of love and laughter.
John will be buried on October 23, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. in Six Oaks Cemetery on Hilton Head Island. Instead of flowers, the family proposes a donation to the Hilton Head Art League (

Published by The Island Packet on October 17, 2021.


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