By: Terence Way
A legend in Nevada politics and a World War ll veteran, Paul Laxalt sadly passed on August 6th at age 96. Paul Laxalt was a former US Senator for Nevada and also served a term as its Governor. Laxalt had felt that his enduring support for former President Ronald Reagan was his “major contribution” to public service. In fact, during Reagan’s tenure in the White House, Laxalt was referred by some in the press as Reagan’s “First Friend”.
Below are statements from family, friends, and colleagues.
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt issued the following statement following the death of his grandfather, Senator Paul Dominique Laxalt:
“My grandfather was the rare man in the arena that never lost sight of who he was or where he came from. It is said that our lives are best remembered not by our achievements but by how we treated others. In the course of my life, thousands of people have taken the time to tell me that they knew my grandfather. Without exception, they have used words like decent, genuine, honest, humble and kind. He was indeed all of those things. To those closest to me, my grandfather was both a light and a compass: a testament to what a man should be. To me, my grandfather was the ultimate role model, and much of what I know about being an American, a citizen and a leader, I learned from him.”
“He was the embodiment of the American dream, a pillar of the greatest generation, and he represented all that is best in American politics. The son of Basque immigrants and a son of Nevada, he became Nevada’s governor, a United States Senator and among the closest confidants of one of the most consequential Presidents in American history—Ronald Reagan. He rose to the world stage, but somehow, he carried it all lightly. He changed Washington, but Washington never seemed to change him. I will be forever grateful for our time together, and I will miss him terribly.”
Governor Sandoval, 29th and current Governor of Nevada
“I am devastated by the loss of my friend and mentor, Paul Laxalt today. He was a statesman and a consummate gentleman. May he Rest in Peace.”
Dean Heller, Senior United States Senator for Nevada
“Paul epitomized the very best Nevada had to offer by putting service above self. He served as a friend and confidante to numerous Nevadans as his wealth of knowledge steered many of us to seek his valued advice and insight.”
Dina Titus, Congresswoman
“My deepest sympathy goes out to the Laxalt family.”
Laxalt met privately several times with Anatoly Dobyrinin, the Soviet Union’s ambassador to the U.S. as the Soviets struggled to understand Reagan. Another time, as Laxalt was preparing a trip to France, Reagan asked him to take a measure of President Francois Mitterrand.
“He’s legendary in our state,” said a longime friend and notable Republican campaign strategist Sig Rogich, who worked on Laxalt‘s gubernatorial campaign.
“News of Laxalt‘s death brought an outpouring of support and condolences from Nevada politicians past and present who praised as a mentor, leader and friend.”
“In the early Laxalt years, Nevada was the only state without a community college. He overcame resistance from boosters of Reno’s University of Nevada campus to fund community colleges started by local leaders in Elko and Southern Nevada. He was especially proud of advocating and organizing support for Nevada’s first medical school.”
Also imagine how different Nevada would be today if it wasn’t for Paul Laxalt’s efforts legitimizing corporate gaming in the Silver State, paving the way for Nevada becoming the worldwide destination for tourism and conventions.
In stark contrast to most public servants today, it is remarkable how well-liked and respected Paul Laxalt was to political allies and foes as a gracious statesman and gentleman.
In honor of Paul Laxalt, on August 8th 2018, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed an executive order declaring all flags for the USA and State of Nevada to be flown at half-staff for the rest of the week.
Paul Laxalt’s wife Carol (of over 42 years) was at his side when he died in northern Virginia. He is also survived by six children and Adam Laxalt, one of his numerous grandchildren, hoping to follow his grandfather’s footsteps this fall as the elected Governor of Nevada.