History - and a spelling lesson - from a former senator

Assembly leadership staff got an informal history lesson - along with a spelling lesson - from former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan on Friday.

Bryan was admiring the newly installed display outside of Speaker Richard Perkins' office - a wall covered with photos of former speakers of the Assembly - and started telling stories about some of those he knew and worked with.

Bryan, who grew up in Las Vegas, told Perkins' secretary Kathryn Alden that Jack Higgins, speaker in the 1951 session, had a barbershop on Fremont Street and used to cut Bryan's hair when he was a boy.

"But I don't think that's how he spelled his name," said Bryan pointing to the brass plaque identifying the picture as "J.M. Higgens."

"Don't tell me that," said Alden. But a quick check of the Legislative Counsel Bureau's historic list of lawmakers and the Nevada Political History proved Bryan's legendary memory is just as sharp as when he was a member of the Assembly in the 1960s.

Sergeant at Arms Terry Sullivan, who was General Services director when Bryan was governor, confirmed the name plate was wrong and told his former boss the spelling would be corrected as soon as possible.

Bryan began his political career in the Assembly, then moved to the Nevada Senate before becoming attorney general, governor and finally spending two terms as U.S. senator.

He retired from the Senate four years ago, resuming the practice of law in Las Vegas.

It was Perkins who decided to put up pictures of all his predecessors on the wall of the Assembly leadership offices. But it has been Sullivan's task to try to find the pictures.

There are 31 pictures hanging on the wall now - including one of Perkins.

But despite the fact that the speaker is the leader of the Assembly, Sullivan said he is still missing photos of 22 former speakers.

He asked any relatives or descendants of former speakers of the Nevada Assembly to give him a call if they have pictures that might fill in those gaps. He said the pictures can be copied then returned to their owners unharmed.

"Eight of the ones we're missing are before 1900. The rest are after 1900," he said. "We'd really appreciate hearing from anyone who has a picture of some of these men."

Sullivan can be reached at the Assembly Sergeant at Arms Office at 684-8524.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or at 687-8750.


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