Mike O’Callaghan, journalist, former Nevada governor, dies
LAS VEGAS ” Former Nevada Gov. Mike O’Callaghan died Friday after collapsing during a morning mass at a Catholic church. He was 74.
O’Callaghan, a Democrat, was one of Nevada’s most popular governors, serving two terms from 1970-78. In his race for a second term, he collected twice as many votes as his two opponents put together, finishing with 67.3 percent of the total.
O’Callaghan served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star after being wounded in February 1953 while trying to rescue several members of his unit. The blast from a mortar shell forced amputation of his left leg below the knee.
He said at one point that losing the leg meant he couldn’t be a boxer or basketball player.
“But there were plenty of things I wanted to do and, doggone it, you don’t have to have a foot to be a governor.”
After earning a college degree, he moved to Southern Nevada, where he taught school through the 1950s. One of his pupils was Harry Reid, who later served as his lieutenant governor and is now a U.S. senator for Nevada.
O’Callaghan was born Sept. 10, 1929, in LaCrosse, Wis., named Donal Neil O’Callaghan.
O’Callaghan is executive editor and chairman of the board of the Las Vegas Sun daily newspaper.
Gov. Kenny Guinn issued the following statement today on the passing of former Gov. Mike O’Callaghan.
“Nevada lost a treasure today,” Guinn said. “I lost a friend and a role model. As a veteran, he demonstrated how to proceed in life despite the loss of a limb. As a teacher in Henderson he influenced a generation of students. As Governor, he left a legacy as one of the most popular figures in our state’s history, tackling such tough issues as the welfare of disadvantaged children, the preservation of Lake Tahoe and affordable housing in Las Vegas. As the editor of the Las Vegas Sun, he served not only as an important voice in Nevada, but also acted as its conscience. As a devoted husband and father, he took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.
“As Superintendent of the Clark County School District, I could expect early morning telephone calls from Gov. O’Callaghan. But more importantly, I knew that I had a friend and could speak freely with him. Mike O’Callaghan set a standard in this office that I have always worked to maintain
“On behalf of the people of Nevada, Dema and I send our deepest condolences to the former First Lady, Carolyn, their children and grandchildren.”