‘At least I got them 52 acres of park’ | NevadaAppeal.com

‘At least I got them 52 acres of park’

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
Photo courtesy the Ted Wurm Collection Mayor Caro Pendergraft of Carson City presents a key to Arthur Lloyd, right, president of California-Nevada R.R. Historical Society, operator of the 1949 excursion. Pendergraft was the last Carson mayor to serve a two-year-term.

Caro Pendergraft had two weeks to close down his clothing store and report to the military.

He wanted more time to make arrangements for his California business, “but that was in the days they’d make you come,” he said.

After World War II, he moved his store to Lake Tahoe, then to Carson City.

It was where Pendergraft, who’d fought in the Battle of Midway and played bass drum in a Marine band, started and ended his political career as mayor nearly 60 years ago.

“I didn’t want to join the Army, and I didn’t think I looked good in a sailor suit,” said the city’s oldest living former mayor. “So I walked across the street and joined the Marines.”

He didn’t plan on running for mayor of the 3,500-person town of mostly dirt roads, but people asked him to, so he did. Pendergraft, who was in office from 1949-51, was the last mayor who served a two-year term.

He moved soon after to Wells, then to the South to work as a salesman for a steel company.

The 95-year-old man said he’s never been back to the Carson City, but was glad he did as much as he could in the time he was mayor.

He said he was proud he helped change the term of a mayor to four years. He said the best thing he did was convince the Mills family to donate the land for Mills Park, which was the first park in the city.

The family agreed to give the land after he promised the park would be named after them.

“That sold it,” he said Friday in a phone interview from Atlanta.

Kay Winters, who moved to Carson City in 1941, said Pendergraft was popular in the city.

“He was a good mayor,” she said. “And, as usual, Carson was trying to grow. It took a lot of good diplomacy on his part to help.”

The time Pendergraft was mayor was the beginning of when Carson became a more “modern” city, said State Archivist Guy Rocha.

The city was expanding its infrastructure, Carson-Tahoe Hospital was built and more people were visiting the city.

Before World War II, Rocha said, “Carson City was in another era.”

Pendergraft said he worked hard in his career after he left Carson and, since he retired, has traveled all over the world on golfing trips.

Not many people ever knew he was the mayor of a city in Nevada, he said, but those who have found out were surprised.

“They said, ‘Well that was nice.'”

Pendergraft, who owned Caro’s men’s clothing store, said he enjoyed being mayor of what was the country’s smallest capital at the time, but is frustrated he only had two years to help.

“At least I got them 52 acres of park,” he said.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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