Carson businessman dead at 55
November 18, 2004
In a rustic room with lace curtains, the McFadden family reminisced Thursday about the life of Bob McFadden, retired businessman, real estate investor and art aficionado.
The family filled the void by talking about his life. There was never a silent moment.
McFadden, 55, died of a probable heart attack Wednesday while vacationing in Costa Rica. Kurt McFadden said he was told over the phone that his brother had just collapsed.
“He’d been surfing that morning,” Kurt said Thursday evening. “We believe he had a heart attack, but we don’t know that for a fact.”
While trading stories, they laughed and lauded the man who ran for Carson City mayor twice and came close to winning once. He campaigned for restoring downtown, and did it with the buildings he bought.
Born in Fullerton, Calif., in 1949, McFadden made his home in Carson City in 1972 after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. In 1985 he opened his first real estate office called the Champions at Third and Carson streets. McFadden teamed with his brother, and together the business grew to seven offices in Northern Nevada.
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In 1991 he bought the Krebs Peterson House and restored it. It was there that John Wayne shot his last film, “The Shootist.”
As family members spoke, in the next room Jack the cat lay on a table. McFadden’s two golden retrievers, Fatty and Dusty, trotted around the room and between people, looking for attention.
Rob McFadden, 27, said his dad ran out of wall space for his art collection, so he started hanging pictures on the ceiling. Two wires dangle, where the next row of paintings was supposed to go.
McFadden recently sold the St. Charles Hotel on South Carson Street. Other business ventures included McFadden’s Bar and Big Woody’s restaurant. He married twice, once in the produce department of Safeway, had four children and two grandchildren. He wrote a book on Nevada art, titled “Painters of Nevada, 1845-1980.”
Carson McFadden, 12, said her father loved playing volleyball and surfing.
“He spent a lot of time in Zephyr Cove,” Rob added. He wore his father’s “Proud to be a Republican” cap.
“And he collected art,” Carson added.
Kurt said his brother was renowned for having the largest Nevada art collection.
“Per him,” Rob said. Everyone chuckled.
“His favorite artist was … ” his other daughter, 29-year-old Julie, started, but she was interrupted.
“Hans Meyer Kassel,” Carson finished for her.
McFadden, son of John and Beverly McFadden, was known for his tan, his love for the Carson area and animals. Whenever he found an injured animal he’d bring it home and nurse it back to health, his family said.
“He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known,” his sister, Lisa McFadden, said. “And he was the funniest person I’ve ever known.”
Rob called his father a champ.
“He was good at everything he did,” Rob said.
Jenny Lopiccolo, the new owner of the St. Charles and a longtime business associate, said McFadden’s death is a great loss for Carson City.
“He was a great businessman and was very successful in his many business dealings in the area,” she said.
“Mostly though, he spent a great deal of time as a community advocate. He loved Carson City, and always had a great vision for the city, especially for the downtown area.”
Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@ nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.