William (Bill) Zeliff, Former Innkeeper and Congressman, Age 85, Dies October 18, 2021
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of former innkeeper, Bill Zeliff, to friends of the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa. Bill and his wife, Sydna, bought the Christmas Farm Inn in 1976, and operated it together for almost 25 years. He was actively involved in many local and community events and organizations, and eventually entered politics, winning three terms as a U.S. Congressman.
Before becoming an innkeeper, Bill worked for Dupont, holding positions of product manager and national sales manager. Eventually, he saw an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal that the Christmas Farm Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire was for sale. He was intrigued by the listing, and it ultimately inspired him to become an innkeeper and independent business owner.
Bill and Sydna made the trip to see the Christmas Farm Inn, and made the decision to purchase the business from Jim and Eva Powers. They moved to Jackson with their sons, Jim, Mike, and Willie, and together they made many improvements to the Christmas Farm Inn. They transformed it from a sleepy country inn to a thriving four-season lodging and dining business known throughout New England. Among other things, Bill promoted tourism, activities, and events in the area, as well as entrepreneurship and community involvement. He served on the Memorial Hospital Board, and helped found the annual Memorial Golf Event. Bill and Sydna also started the ‘Christmas in July’ charitable fund-raising event at the Christmas Farm Inn, and Bill even served as President of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association.
We first met Bill in 2010, a couple of months after taking over the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa. On a business trip visiting from Florida, he stopped in to introduce himself, and was pleased to see a family like his own had taken ownership of the inn. The next summer, he came again with Sydna to visit with us, and we have considered them friends ever since. Bill used to regularly stop by during his trips to Jackson, and sit in the living room of the Christmas Farm Inn making calls and answering emails. He said it always felt like home.
Having spent 25 years at the Christmas Farm Inn, we could see the love and dedication Bill and Sydna had put into the business to make it successful. Bill told us that, after marrying Sydna, buying the Christmas Farm Inn was the best thing he ever did. He was very proud of what he and Sydna achieved. He felt he achieved success, accomplished something positive and worthwhile, and it set the stage for his future community and political involvement.
Bill celebrated his 80th birthday in the historic barn at the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa in 2016, a working barn that he and Sydna renovated and turned into an event venue. It was great to meet their extended family and old friends– many of whom have become our friends now too.
He and Sydna have been role models for us. We will always remember Bill Zeliff fondly, and ask you to join us in offering condolences to Sydna and the entire Zeliff family.
With heartfelt wishes,
Gary and Sandra Plourde
Owner and Innkeepers
Christmas Farm Inn & Spa