Don McBride, a longtime fixture behind the bar at the Bucket of Blood Saloon and organizer of some of Virginia City's biggest celebrations, died Thursday at a Reno care facility.
He was 78.
McBride dedicated his life to Virginia City and the Comstock.
"He moved here when he was 3 years old," said his son Marshall McBride. "He grew up here during the mining days and saw it transform into a tourist attraction. He liked the uniqueness of the community and the people who lived here."
McBride was born Feb. 1, 1928, in Winnemucca to Versal and Marie McBride. He attended the Fourth Ward School before graduating from Virginia City High School in 1946.
He married Jeannie Rae Butterbaugh in 1949.
Throughout his life, McBride took great interest in Virginia City, helping to organize a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce in 1962, serving as an honorary member of the Comstock Historic Commission and on the board of Piper's Opera House.
He also helped organize Bonanza Days and the Virginia City Camel Races, helping to turn the Comstock in a tourist attraction.
"He and several others organized Bonanza Days. They brought in all the actors from the show. It was a big three-day celebration," Marshall said.
More than 100,000 people attended the event, gridlocking the town for days as the stars of the show came to the Bucket of Blood.
In honor of the celebration, McBride had gold-and-silver belt buckles engraved with each star's name. Each buckle included a $20 gold piece struck from the Carson City Mint. The total cost of the buckles was more than $3,000.
McBride went to work helping his father run the Bucket of Blood, which has been operated in the family since 1931. Even after he passed control of the saloon onto his sons eight years ago, he was still a regular visitor.
"Having the saloon was more than a job for him, it was a good part of his life," Marshall said. "He really enjoyed the visitors who wanted to know the history of Virginia City and Nevada."
In addition to the saloon, McBride also bought the Eilley Orrum Gift Shop in 1950 and the King Mansion, both of which he restored for use.
"The house was built for George King, the president of Wells Fargo Bank in Virginia City," Marshall said. "He and my mom completely restored it in 1970 before they moved in. He loved restoration and preserving historical things."
McBride was preceded in death by his wife in 1994. He is survived by his three sons, Steve and Marshall of Virginia City, and Don of Carson City; six grandchildren and one great-grandson.
A memorial service will be 3 p.m. Wednesday at Piper's Opera House in Virginia City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to either of the following: The Restoration of the Eagle's Hall Building, P.O. Box 80, Virginia City, NV 89440, or the Piper's Opera House, P.O. Box J, Virginia City, NV 89440.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
If you go:
WHAT: Memorial service for Don McBride
WHEN: 3 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Piper's Opera House in Virginia City
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to either of the following: The Restoration of the Eagle's Hall Building, P.O. Box 80, Virginia City, NV 89440, or the Piper's Opera House, P.O. Box J, Virginia City, NV 89440.