Diana Millichamp Williams, 56, founder of Hidden France, a boutique travel and tour service, died June 18 in her home in Jackson Hole. The cause was complications from colon cancer, said her husband, Alex Gambal. Her family provided the following:
Williams, a resident of Jackson Hole and Orches, Burgundy, France, turned her lifelong passion for France and its culture into what The New York Times called a “savvy tour operation.” She launched Hidden France in 2009 to create refreshingly personalized and unforgettable travel experiences for small groups of guests throughout the French wine regions. Her company offered customized trips to destinations such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, Provence and Beaune, where she and her husband, a winemaker and owner of Maison Alex Gambal, lived.
“I want to show the world the France I fell in love with,” she said at the time.
Writing about the couple’s businesses in September 2015, New York Times journalist Robert Draper described Williams as “effervescent” and lauded her deep knowledge of the Cote De Beaune countryside as well as her recommendation for a local chicken specialty, Poulet de Bresse. “There is no better dish in all of France,” Draper wrote.
Williams was born Dec. 2, 1963, in Detroit, the daughter of Clark Williams, an advertising executive, and Mary Williams, an elementary school art teacher.
In the early 1970s the family relocated to Killington, Vermont, where Diana attended Killington Mountain School. She competed on the World Cup Freestyle Team in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then attended the University of Vermont. She then served as director of the Killington Mountain School Freestyle Program from 1988 to 1998. From 1998 to 2002 she coached the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, headquartered in Park City, Utah. She retired from competitive coaching at the conclusion of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Williams mentored many Killington Mountain School alumni who went on to become Olympians, including Travis Mayer, Evan Dybvig and Hannah Hardaway.
“Diana believed in coaching not only to help her athletes improve their skiing but to learn how to be great people and contribute to their community,” said her friend Janice St. Onge. “As a coach, she positively impacted more young people in a year than most do in a lifetime.”
She is survived by her husband, Alex Gambal, of Jackson Hole and Orches; two stepchildren, Alexa Nicholas and her husband, Grant, of Jackson Hole, and Coyah Gambal, of New Orleans; her mother, Mary Williams, of Rutland, Vermont; two brothers, Bruce Williams, his wife, Heather, and son, Sam, of Detroit, and Beau Williams and his wife, Charlie, of Rutland.
Even after Diana’s diagnosis two years ago, friends recall how she continued to live life to its fullest, with determination and grace. She had a posse of friends and family around the world. She was well loved.
Plans for a memorial service are underway. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a fund that is in the process of being set up to benefit young, promising skiers who need financial assistance to travel and compete at the national and international level. Details on the fund will follow.