Nevada leaders remember Gov. Guinn
– Gov. Jim Gibbons issued a statement ordering flags to half-staff throughout the state and offering his deepest sympathy to Guinn’s family and friends: “Kenny Guinn was a proud Nevadan and his leadership of Nevada and many contributions to the Silver State will be remembered for years to come,” Gibbons said.
– Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.: “It’s nearly impossible for me to put into words what this one man has meant to me and the people of Nevada. Kenny was to me a great role model and someone who I worked very closely with -in fact, he has been an inspiration to me through the years beginning with the time that he was the Superintendent of the Clark County School District and he signed my high school diploma.”
– Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev: “I just learned a couple of minutes ago, one of my dear friends passed away. He was an orphan, he was a stellar athlete. He came to Las Vegas to be a school teacher but he had such a dynamic personality that soon they learned in that rapidly growing school district there, which is now the fourth or fifth largest in the country, they needed his kind of leadership. So he went from being a teacher to running that huge school district in Las Vegas, Clark County School District.
“He had such a magnetic personality. Kenny Guinn was built like an athlete. He was handsome like a movie star. And he left the school district after a number of years and became a bank president. He became a big utility president at a major utility in Nevada. Then he became president of a university. I think he worked for $1 a year. He did it to be nice.
“Somebody said to him, “What you should do is run for governor.” It was a slam dunk. He was a very moderate republican. He was elected governor twice very easily. He did an extremely good job as governor.
“We don’t know what happened to Kenny today. But from reports we got, he was in an accident. He was on his roof and fell. He’s dead now. I feel so bad about this. I talked to him a week or so ago about my campaign and his wonderful, beautiful, charming wife Dema. I just feel so sad that Kenny is not with us anymore. I join all Nevada in mourning the loss of truly a great man, one of Nevada’s outstanding governors, a friend of mine who I’ll always feel very strongly about.”
– Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.: “He was a dynamic force in Nevada politics and our State’s business circles for as many decades as I can remember, and he had an extraordinary influence on me. He was a good man and he will be deeply missed.”
– Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev.: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Governor Guinn. I had the privilege of serving with Kenny while Secretary of State and was proud to have called him my friend. His service to Nevada and his legacy will be remembered by all who worked with him. My thoughts and prayers go to Dema and her family during this very difficult time.”
– Former Gov. Paul Laxalt: “Obviously, I was shocked to hear the terrible news about my long-time friend, Kenny Guinn. The news hit me like a kick to the gut.
“We were friends for the better part of four decades. I think what attracted us to one another is that we had similar backgrounds. My father was a sheepherder who plied his trade in the mountains and deserts of Nevada. Kenny’s father worked tirelessly in the farm lands of Central California.
“His parents, like mine, devoted themselves completely to providing their children with lives that would open up opportunities that simply did not exist for them.
“With that kind of upbringing, Kenny went on to become a great success in life as well as a loving father and husband and a deeply loyal friend. He was a devoted educator, skillful school superintendent, highly successful bank and utility executive, selfless and dedicated president of a university and, finally, a highly popular governor.
“For years, I had attempted to have him seek office, but he repeatedly told me that he and Dema weren’t ready. Eventually, after raising his family and achieving financial independence, he won a resounding victory in 1998 and became Nevada’s 28th governor.
“Like any governor, he faced adversity and controversy, but his people skills, substantive knowledge – aided by his business acumen – and down-to-earth approach to governing allowed him to leave office probably more popular than when he was sworn in as governor.
“Carol and I are praying for Kenny and Dema and the rest of his great family on this sad, shocking day. At least we can briefly overcome our grief to say that Kenny truly did live a wonderful life.”