Our Opinion: Nevada loses one of its greatest leaders
Republican or Democrat, high-powered executive or secretary, state official or student, Kenny Guinn was the kind of governor, the kind of man, who not only had time for you but really listened to what you had to say.
His death Thursday after a fall from the roof of his Las Vegas home was a tragic end to an amazing life.
Guinn came to the governor’s office after a career that included running the Clark County School District – Nevada’s largest – PriMerit bank, Southwest Gas and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
By experience, he was undoubtedly the most qualified Nevadan ever elected to run the state.
Guinn will be remembered not only for his professional accomplishments but the programs he created while governor. The Millennium Scholarship is probably the most popular, followed by SeniorRx, which provides health insurance to low-income seniors.
He will be remembered for his steady hand in guiding the state through the financial crisis he faced when he took office in 1999.
Those who knew and dealt with him, however, will remember the man Harry Reid described as having a “magnetic personality.” The man Speaker Barbara Buckley remembered as leaving a room full of supporters to give her elementary-age son a tour of the Governor’s Mansion.
The man who former Governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt praised, saying his knowledgeable, down-to-earth approach to governing enabled him to leave office more popular than when first sworn in.
He will be remembered for his dedication to do the best possible job, no matter what position he held and no matter how dire the challenges he faced. He will be remembered for his ability to work with people, iron out differences and find a path through any problem no matter which party one belonged to.
He will be remembered for his compassion for those less fortunate.
Guinn will also be remembered for his devotion to his family and his wife of more than 50 years, Dema. They met as teenagers but, even many years later, more than one friend described them as “cute” together.
Guinn said the key was knowing how to win an argument with her: “You point your finger right at her and say, ‘Yes, Dear, you’re right.'”
He leaves behind a long list of mourners who describe him as a friend for upwards of 40 years. He leaves behind a state grateful and indebted to him for decades of public service.
It’s not just some platitude: This man will be missed.