Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Bill Levitt

ALTA — Bill Levitt, the longtime owner of Alta Lodge, died Tuesday at the age of 92.

Levitt collapsed during dinner at the lodge, and neither on-scene doctors nor responding paramedics were able to save him, said Levitt's son-in-law, Marcus Dippo.

Levitt was the mayor of Alta from 1972 until 2005. He took office just two years after the town incorporated and helped transform it from an off-the-grid ski spot to a fully integrated municipality serving two resorts and thousands of mountain enthusiasts.

Just last year, the Alta Lodge celebrated its 50th year of ownership by the Levitt family. Focusing on families and traditional skiing, the lodge is still controlled and operated by Levitt's descendants.

Levitt is survived by his wife, Mimi, and three generations of heirs.

Despite his age, Levitt's passing came as a shock to his family and friends.

"We should all aspire to be as vital as he was," Dippo said. "He was a brilliant man, a classic liberal in the best sense of the word. He asked for little for himself."

Throughout his long and full life, Levitt acted as a mentor and guide to many. Known for his knack for compromise, he served on the Salt Lake County Council of Governments for many years.

Levitt also fought to protect Alta, to keep it quaint and beautiful.

"He helped preserve the memory that is Alta. He is Alta, in my opinion," said town administrator Kate Black. "He was an amazing man and a great boss."

Levitt first came to Utah from New York in 1954. He fell in love with the spot and five years later purchased the lodge from Jay Laughlin. Levitt, a seasoned entrepreneur, also was a champion long jumper who continued to ski until just two years ago.

"I guess there was an assumption that he was going to live forever," Dippo said.