Every family should have an ‘Uncle Harry’ | NevadaAppeal.com

Every family should have an ‘Uncle Harry’

Tim O'Callaghan

As it is so often, people pass away and all that remains is a simple obituary. However, so often there is so much more about people that will go untold. Here is an obituary you probably won’t read in any other newspaper in Southern Nevada:

“Harry J. Platt of Carson City, Nev., formerly of Mahopac, N.Y., died on Nov. 8. He was 71.

“Harry was born April 26, 1934, in Bronx, N.Y., the son of the late Harry and Ann Platt. Harry is a graduate of Briarcliff High School and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho.

“Harry was the former general manager of the Reno Silver Sox and Reno Padres minor league baseball club. He also was a former aide and friend to the late Gov. “Mike” O’Callaghan of Nevada and his family. Harry was a member or St. Teresa of Avila Church in Carson City, Nev.

“Services were Nov. 12 in Carmel, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, 3000 Lompa Road, Carson City, NV 89706 (775) 882-1968 or Living Resources Carriage House Art Center, 30 Pine West Plaza, Washington Avenue Ext., Albany NY 12205.”

Harry Platt arrived at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City for a short two-week visit and stayed for five years.

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He was an old college buddy of our dad and then our mother. One day in the cafeteria at the University of Idaho, our dad set on eyes on our mom, leaned over and told Harry he was going to get a date with that girl. It wasn’t long after that he married her.

Harry was a jovial man who became affectionately known as “Uncle Harry” around the mansion and among our friends. He tended the O’Callaghan clan in the absence of our parents when they were out of town tending to the duties of the governor and first lady.

Harry often handed out punishments for the trouble we kids sometimes got into. I had always thought the things Harry disciplined us for were between us and only us; however, as I grew older I began to realize he kept nothing from our dad. Dad would bring up some mischief at a most inconvenient but well-planned occasion, such as in front of your new bride at dinner.

One of Harry’s favorite punishments was ordering the dirtiest vehicles from the state carpool so you could wash away your misdeed as penance. I washed enough cars to fill the parking lot at Sam Boyd Stadium.

He had a tender side as well that I experienced more than just once. One time in particular he stayed up all night at my bedside washing me down and keeping me cool during a high fever caused by the mumps. He would repeat it again when I had the chicken pox.

Harry often kept me on the straight and narrow by putting me to work at Moana Stadium in Reno, where he managed the Reno Silver Sox. He convinced me to work as the clubhouse boy; I remember how important the title sounded. It had to better than a batboy by far.

He made it out to be very important and I agreed. However, I don’t remember him mentioning that I would be up half the night washing dirty uniforms, cleaning and polishing smelly baseball cleats and cleaning the clubhouse. There was a lesson in this proposition: If you were disciplined and detailed, the underpaid ballplayers might give you a tip. Secondly, if the players were happy with my work I was allowed to hawk drinks and snacks in the stands, and hawking paid off much more. I think this is where I developed my people skills at an early age.

As I grew older, he remained a confidant, sometimes adviser and sounding board. After we moved out of the state house, Harry remained in Carson City, where lived in an apartment on Fifth Street. He would commute to Reno every day to work. He was a messenger of sorts by keeping us abreast of our friends, and likewise. He had a network that could be the envy of the director of the CIA. He knew what we were up to at all times.

He was a man of faith who often attended daily Mass with our father when he was in office. He became well loved at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, where he continued to make a difference.

There is not enough space on this page to tell all of the good Uncle Harry did in his life, as it is with other people, I’m sure.

Every family should be blessed with an “Uncle Harry”. I’m happy the O’Callaghan Clan was so blessed.

nTim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Henderson Home News, may be reached at tim.oc@vegas.com.