William M. Laub, Sr.
October 17, 2007
WILLIAM M. LAUB, Sr., Las Vegas business, civic and cultural leader, a resident of more than 50 years, died Sunday, October 14, 2007, at the age of 83.
Laub was born at Fort Mills, Corregidor, Philippine Islands, July 20, 1924, to Harold G. and Marjorie M. Laub. Following the elder Laub’s tour of duty in the first of the two World Wars he served in, the family moved to California where Laub attended public schools. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946 as a Lt. j.g. He subsequently received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley in 1947, and a L.L.B. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Jurisprudence (Boalt Hall) in 1950.
He practiced law in Los Angeles from 1951 to 1955 and assisted his father in developing and building a small, struggling liquid propane gas (LPG) distribution utility serving a few hundred customers in Barstow and Victorville, California. Laub left the law practice in 1955 to move the utility’s headquarters to Las Vegas where the fledgling company became Southwest Gas Corporation, which grew into one of the West’s leading natural gas utilities and a major force in providing one the basic services that fueled the famed Las Vegas Strip and the southern Nevada economy. Although he served Southwest Gas in various capacities, including CEO from 1964 to 1988, he never forgot his roots, those days when he chopped weeds and painted meters, and he was equally at ease with a meter reader, service technician, or an executive in the boardroom.
Laub followed in his father’s footsteps as visionary, builder and humanitarian. Under his able leadership, Southwest Gas grew from 52,000 customers to more than 800,000 at the time of his retirement. In the early 1960s the company brought natural gas to northern Nevada for the first time, extending service from Elko in the east to Lake Tahoe on the west. His continued vision and entrepreneurial spirit led to the company’s acquisition of the natural gas operations of Tucson Gas and Electric and Arizona Public Service in Phoenix. Each of these Arizona expansions doubled the size of the company, both in customers served and employees who he considered the backbone of the company. The company also was recognized nationwide for its innovative programs in consumer education, customer service, employee communications and shareholder relations.
Laub’s civic and professional affiliations included chairman, Pacific Coast Gas Association, 1982-83; trustee, Institute of Gas Technology, 1983-1989; chairman, American Gas Association, 1986-87; and, chairman, Nevada Public Utilities Association, 1976-79.
Although he was a very active Republican, he was appointed by Democratic Gov. Grant Sawyer to the Savings & Loan Appeal Board, State of Nevada, 1961-66. Laub was chairman, Clark County Republican Central Committee, 1964-66; committeeman for Nevada, Republican National Committee, 1968-80, and was appointed by Gov. Paul Laxalt to serve as the first Nevada Equal Rights Commission chairman from 1966-68. He was president of the Nevada Development Authority from 1967-68; member, Board of Directors, First Interstate Bank of Nevada, 1964-1988; and a member, National Board of Advisors, College of Business and Public Administration, University of Arizona, 1985-89.
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A life-long supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, Laub served as president of the Boulder Dam Area Council from 1967-69. He also served as trustee of KNPR Public Radio from 1994 until 2005; and was a trustee of Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, since 1977, Emeritus since 2004. He was president of the Methodist Foundation of Southern Nevada, 1967-74, and a founding member of University United Methodist Church in Las Vegas.
William and Mary McDonald were married July 26, 1947. Mary survives, as do their five children and seven grandchildren; William, Jr. of Las Vegas; Andrew of La Jolla, California, and sons, Russell and Brian; Mary Agnes Boni (Les) of Winnemucca, Nevada, and daughters, Meghan and Heather; John (Karen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and sons, Michael and Scott; and David (Sheila) of Seattle, Washington, and daughter, Virginia.
Services will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 22, 2007 at University United Methodist Church, 4412 S. Maryland Parkway, 89119. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to University United Methodist Church; KNPR, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89146; or charity of choice.