Today, Nevada and America lost “A Great Man” in Governor Kenny C. Guinn. The former Governor died today at his Las Vegas home, in what is being called an accident.
I just recently saw my friend and former Governor–we had coffee together, and as always he offered his advice to me on a variety of issues. It’s difficult for me to write about this because Kenny was such a dear and respected friend. Having been born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, I’ve known Kenny Guinn since I was a kid. It was only until my adult life when I got involved in Nevada Politics that I became close friends with Kenny.
I know that everyone has a Kenny Guinn story, and they are all light-hearted and reflect what a great person he was. In the days and weeks to come, you’ll hear from so many that will tell you Kenny Guinn was a down-to-earth, kind, sincere, and respectful man. Kenny Guinn loved his family and friends, and would always did whatever he could to help someone out. The Governor leaves behind his wife Dema, his two sons Jeff and Steve, and his many grandchildren. He also leaves a void for his many friends like myself who will miss his friendship and council.
I was sitting here thinking about which story I wanted to tell about Kenny, but I have so many–however, I was able to narrow it down to two that I think you will appreciate. The first is when after a many years I hadn’t seen Kenny Guinn; the year was 1996. At that time, I was a Board Member of Rebuilding Together (Formerly Christmas In April), a non-profit organization that helps low-income, elderly, and disabled persons rebuild their homes.
This year, we were renovating a home for a women in West Las Vegas. If one were to name the problems someone could possibly have their home, this women had them. Everything from appliances not working, electrical problems, water leaks, etc. When I was putting together my team of volunteers and started making phone calls to garner donations for the project, I added Kenny Guinn’s name to the list. I remember that phone call like it was yesterday, and remember his aide Judy picking up the phone. I asked Judy if I could speak with Kenny about a project I was working on–she informed me that he was unavailable and took the message. Hours later my phone rings, I answer and hear, “hello, this is Kenny Guinn returning your phone call”, I about jumped out of my chair. I said “hello Mr. Guinn, I am working on a volunteer project and wanted to know if you wouldn’t mind helping me”? After explaining the project to him Kenny said, “I’ll not only help you out with a contribution, but I’ll be there to help fix her house.”
As you can imagine, this meant a great deal to me, and to all the volunteers of the project. Indeed, like he always did Kenny was true to his word and showed up on Renovation Day! Kenny approached the driveway in jeans and a t-shirt with a tool-belt buckled around his waist. He said, “alright, I’m ready to get to work.” Kenny was there for a many hours that day and rewired all the electrical sockets in the entire house! Before leaving, Kenny shook all the hands of the volunteers and gave the women who owned the home a big hug–wishing her the best in her newly renovated home.
The real story of Kenny Guinn is that he was a giver–an unselfish man who did what he could for others. Those who knew Kenny could always count on him. There always stood a humbled man, who worked hard for what he had and cared so dearly about his family, his state, and his community.
Now the second story is one from 5 years ago, when I needed Kenny Guinn more than ever! At the time, Kenny was still Governor and I was the State Chairman of the Nevada Young Republicans. I was also an active member of the National Young Republican Federation. In 2003 Nevada won our bid to host the 2005 Young Republican National Convention. One of the deciding factors for the National Federation choosing Nevada as the host state was the strong support we had from our Governor; Kenny Guinn.
Naturally, hosting a National Convention for any organization is a daunting task. It was going to be especially difficult for Nevada due to our small membership. During this time, Nevada was one of the smaller federations in the nation with only about a couple hundred members state-wide. So, the support of our Governor and Republican Party Leadership was going to be crucial to our success.
Once Nevada received the nod to host the National Convention, I quickly called the Governor. I remember the excitement in my voice, “Governor, we got the convention!” Kenny’s response was, “good job Nathan”. I thanked the Governor, and reminded him that it was his involvement and support of our efforts that really put us over the top. It was then that I asked the Governor if he would be the Honorary Chairman of the 2005 Young Republican National Convention. Without hesitation the Governor said, “yes I will”. Throughout the next two years Governor Guinn made countless calls on our behalf, and made himself available whenever we needed him.
In 2005 Governor Guinn showed me what a true and amazing friend he really was. Without going into too much detail, there was a dust-up in the Young Republicans. I had been pulled into the mess and frankly the survival and success of the National Convention was put on the line. After a false media report about myself, in which the Governor’s name was mentioned–I heard from Kenny Guinn. After explaining the circumstances of the news report, instead of distancing himself from the controversy the Governor said to me, “Nathan, I’ll continue to support you and the Young Republicans in any way that I can”.
In ways that I can’t even describe, this touched my heart and was one of the best examples of what it meant to be have Kenny Guinn as your friend. Kenny’s continued involvement in the convention made it a true success. A couple fond memories of the convention was first the Welcome Reception that was hosted by the Governor. I remember he stayed for several hours and spoke to almost everyone there. Attendees kept coming up to me saying “you have the coolest Governor in the world”! I of course knew that already and thanked them for their comments.
Finally, I remember myself and a couple of our convention volunteers sharing some time with the Governor prior to his speech. We all had a beer and just talked about what was going on in our lives. Kenny was always easy to talk to and like I said before, folks just loved being around him.
My last conversation with Kenny Guinn is one I’ll never forget. I talked to him about my campaign for the State Assembly and asked him to explain some details to me regarding the Nevada State Budget. Those who worked with Kenny while he was Governor will tell you he was a Master when it came to crunching numbers and working through state finances. He explained to me the dynamics of the state budgeting process and gave me some great ideas on how we could cut the budget without raising taxes and hurting the less-fortunate.
What many including myself will miss most about Kenny Guinn is his smile and positive attitude. Kenny was such an optimist, and when confronted with an issue or a problem he was always quick to find a solution. Those who knew him have lost a good friend, a true leader, and what many will say of him “A True Statesman”.
May God Bless you Kenny C. Guinn, we’ll all miss you! May God Bless The Guinn Family. Thank you Kenny for being “A Great Man”!
2 Comments to Governor Kenny C. Guinn 1936 – 2010 “A Great Man”
Leave a comment
- February 2012
- April 2011
- March 2011
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008