Lawmakers honor former governor O’Callaghan, wife |

Lawmakers honor former governor O’Callaghan, wife

Lawmakers spoke affectionately Thursday of former governor Mike O’Callaghan and his wife of nearly 50 years, Carolyn.

O’Callaghan died in March last year, followed five months later by Carolyn. Most of those who knew the O’Callaghans for any length of time referred to them together.

“They were a team throughout their lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, as the Legislature approved resolutions honoring their roles as state leaders.

“Between your dad’s passion and your mother’s compassion, what a wonderful whole person they made,” Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, told the family.

O’Callaghan, a Democrat, was governor from 1970 through 1978. Several speakers recounted stories of how O’Callaghan would call – often in the middle of the night – to discuss an issue or make a complaint.

“You would get a call at 5 in the morning or, if he thought about it, at 11 at night,” said Raggio. “He just felt if he was awake and thinking about it, you should be awake and thinking about it.”

And speaker after speaker talked about O’Callaghan’s feisty nature, his refusal to compromise his principles and his advice to young politicians to stick to their beliefs as well.

Raggio said that despite their partisan differences, they developed a friendship which spanned decades – “a friendship and relationship that I cherish.”

“Nevada actually began to grow up under the leadership of Mike O’Callaghan,” said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas. “His legacy can be seen and felt around us every day.”

Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, described O’Callaghan as “larger than life for me – a mentor to all.”

He said his respect for Carolyn O’Callaghan was just as great and that, when they died last year, “We lost the two finest public servants Nevada has ever known.”

“Every person he met, every person he touched, he cared about,” said Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. “It didn’t matter who had a problem, Governor Mike was there to solve it.”

And she said that continued long after he left office with calls to her and other lawmakers asking them to handle some individual’s problem.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.