Longtime governor’s mansion coordinator Helen Wiemer moving on
For most of the past 20 years, there’s been one constant at the Nevada governor’s mansion: Mansion Coordinator Helen Wiemer.
A petite bundle of energy defying her 84 years, Wiemer has managed the mansion staff, including inmates who clean, care for the grounds and even cook, since Bob and Sandy Miller hired her in 1991. To many, she is the face of the mansion, the constant even as administrations changed.
Her tenure there ends in January when Gov. Brian and First Lady Kathleen Sandoval will bring in their own coordinator to run the mansion and handle special events.
Former First Lady Sandy Miller, who hired Wiemer in 1991, described her as “a great treasure.”
“She was always incredibly respectful to everyone, that English manner,” she said. “So gracious and welcoming. She set exactly the tone we wanted when we came.”
Miller also praised Wiemer’s handling of the inmate trusties who work at the mansion, saying she treated them “with great respect but, at the same time, there was a very high level of accountability.”
Former First Lady Dawn Gibbons also praised Wiemer.
“She made it very pleasant for the people who came to visit and made it very pleasant for the families that lived there,” Gibbons said. “She served the people of Nevada with honor and distinction.”
Wiemer said she understands the incoming first lady simply has her own person she wants handling her affairs and caring for her family.
“That’s the way the mop flops,” Wiemer said.
“I know we’re not indispensable,” she said. “I want the mansion to run good, make the governor look good.”
But she readily admits she has a lot emotionally invested in the place.
“I began to feel like it was my ancestral home,” she said.
Wiemer said she invited Mrs. Sandoval and her replacement to visit her before the inauguration.
“I was happy I liked her. The first lady was very gracious,” she said.
She said she wanted to emphasize a few things including the importance of the inmate trusties who work there and handle much of the work needed to maintain the mansion and put on events. Managing the trustees, she said, is key to success.
Wiemer had praise for her employers over the years.
“The Millers and their kids were wonderful,” she said. “The Gibbonses were marvelous to me. Both lovely people. I loved Kenny Guinn too,” she said.
“I’ve loved every moment here,” she said. “I get up every day looking forward to it. But I guess all good things come to an end.”
She said whoever manages the mansion for the first family must devote their loyalties to them and the task of running the mansion complex.
“You have to be willing to do whatever it takes,” she said. “If somebody needs to scrub the bathrooms, I’ve done it.”
In addition, the coordinator has to manage the Nevada Room, the special events center adjacent to the mansion which hosts nearly 100 events a year, many with more than 100 guests.
Originally from England, Wiemer came to the United States. after graduating high school to visit her grandmother in New York and stayed. Before she was hired by the Millers, she did a variety of things including helping manage a department store where she met her husband, Stan, of 54 years. After she leaves, she said she’ll join him at the Community Counseling Center in Reno working with residential clients.
“I’ll be working with younger people, most of them,” she said.
Doing nothing, she said, isn’t an option.
“I can’t stay home. It’d drive me crazy. I want to keep busy.”
In the meantime, she’s busy moving out of the quarters behind the mansion reserved for the coordinator.
“I’ll be all right,” she said.