Guinn remembered at funeral service in Las Vegas |

Guinn remembered at funeral service in Las Vegas

Associated Press Writer
Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn relaxes in his den at the Governor's Mansion in Carson City, Nev. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2005 with his dog "Mimi." Guinn is in his final year as governor after serving two terms and is looking forward to touring the state with his wife Dema. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Pallbearers wheeled a flag-draped casket carrying the body of former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn into a Las Vegas church Tuesday for the start of his funeral Mass.

One of Guinn’s grandchildren helped bring his body out of a white hearse and into St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Roman Catholic Church for the morning service.

The casket was followed by Guinn’s family, including his wife, Dema. She walked with their sons, Jeff and Steve. The procession leading into Mass included a line of bagpipers and drummers.

Mass then began with a choir song and an opening prayer. A memorial reception at the Palace Station hotel-casino was scheduled to follow.

Pete Ernaut, Guinn’s former chief of staff, said attendance at the services would be limited only by the size of the venues.

Las Vegas police controlled traffic and security, he said. Nevada Highway Patrol, Air National Guard and Army National Guard authorities were assisting with the services.

Guinn died Thursday after falling from the roof of his Las Vegas home while making repairs. He was 73. The two-term moderate Republican served as the state’s chief executive from 1999 to 2007.

Guinn, the son of California sharecroppers, led during more prosperous times in a state now dealing with severe budget problems and the nation’s highest unemployment and foreclosure rates.

During his time in Carson City, Guinn overhauled government agency operations, revamped budgeting and tax collections, fought federal plans to bury nuclear waste in the desert outside Las Vegas and tried to diversify Nevada’s casino-dependent economy.

The former Clark County superintendent and bank chairman also passed the biggest tax increase in state history, then returned to residents $300 million in excess revenues.

He will be buried Thursday in his childhood hometown of Exeter, Calif., following private services, Ernaut said.

In lieu of flowers, Guinn’s family asked for donations to the Millennium Scholarship program, which Guinn set up in 1999 with tobacco settlement money to send Nevada students to state colleges.

“The Millennium school fund is one of the most important in the state and probably will be the hallmark of his legacy in government,” Ernaut said.