Virginia City bids farewell to saloon owner Don McBride |

Virginia City bids farewell to saloon owner Don McBride

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

A wide cross-section of Virginia City residents said good-bye Wednesday to Don McBride, owner of the Bucket of Blood Saloon and tireless cheerleader for the historic mining town.

“If it’s good for Virginia City, it’s good for me,” was one of the McBride quotes offered in tribute by Howard Bennett, chairman of Piper’s Opera House, on whose board McBride served for many years and the site of the memorial service.

Donald Giles McBride died April 20 in a Reno care facility. He was 78. He was born Feb. 1, 1928, in Winnemucca, to Versal and Marie McBride and the family moved to Virginia City in 1931.

About 400 representatives from every sector of the small town, from families with Comstock roots five generations long to newcomers, business owners, workers and regular barstool occupiers came together to celebrate McBride’s life and his many contributions to the community.

The eulogy was delivered by Hugh Gallagher Jr., a longtime family friend who credited McBride, along with Territorial Enterprise owner Lucius Beebe, with turning Virginia City from a dying mining town to one of Nevada’s premier tourist attractions.

“After the boom was over, many thought Virginia City was destined for ghost town status,” Gallagher said. “But Don stepped up to the plate to make this the single biggest tourist attraction in the West.”

Gallagher noted that McBride was the organizer of “Bonanza Days” a special event that brought the cast of the popular Western TV show to town for a parade. Gallagher said about 100,000 people came to see the TV stars and shake their hands.

He lauded the venerable businessman for his community work promoting the town and working to preserve historic buildings, including the Miner’s Union Hall, The King Mansion, the Fourth Ward School, Piper’s Opera House and many others.

Gallagher said McBride has been a past president of the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Comstock Historic Commission and a member of the Association of Eagles.

Virginia City entertainers Squeek LaVake and Gary Greenland, as well as David John and the Comstock Cowboys performed musical tributes. In addition, Ron James, the state Historic Preservation Officer, led several members of the Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band in a bagpipe tribute to McBride, who James said once played the bagpipes.

Several local residents shared their memories with his sons, Marshall, Steve and Don, and their families. Mike Nevin remembered working with the McBride sons on various enterprises, including loading Original Bucket of Blood beer in the basement. “I think about every other case of that beer went out the back,” he said. “It was good.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to either of the following: The Restoration of the Eagle’s Hall Building, P.O. Box 80, Virginia City, NV 89440, or the Piper’s Opera House, P.O. Box J, Virginia City, NV 89440.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.