Nev. (U-News) 5 January 2019 Longtime Nevada
assemblymember and labor leader Bob Price died of an apparent
heart attack at his Sparks home on January 4. He was 82.
Price represented a North Las Vegas district from 1974 to 2002.
The liberal Democrat served on every legislative committee and
rose to chair the powerful Assembly Committee on Taxation. He
and his wife, Nancy, a former university regent, relocated
to Sparks in northwestern Nevada after retirement.
A memorial celebration
is scheduled for 2:00 to 5:00 p.m on Saturday, January 19, at
Robert E. Bob Price Park and Recreation Center,
2100 Bonnie Lane, Las Vegas 89110. The facility was dedicated
in his honor in 2007.
The Nevada Legislature convenes in February and a tribute is in
Bob Price was a member of Las Vegas IBEW Local 357/AFL-CIO
for more than half a century including service as the union's
elected business manager. His proudest possession was a lunch
pail signed by Elvis Presley who visited with Price and
his fellow workers during the 1969-70 construction of the International
Hotel showroom (now the Las Vegas Hilton).
"We were on our break from wiring the theater when The
King of Rock 'n' Roll walked in to review the work in progress,"
"He sat down with us for awhile and you've never met a nicer
guy. I had a pen but no paper, so I had him sign the lid to my
lunchbox," he added.
Price was inducted into the César
Chávez Nevada Labor Hall of Fame in 2011 and will
be memorialized at Chávez Celebration XVII at the Grand
Sierra-Reno on March 28.
Former State Sen. Joe Neal,
D-North Las Vegas, served with Price for 28 years.
"He assisted me in integrating Local 357," Neal said.
"It was Bob who gave me the idea that the base point for
integration of the building trades unions required getting enough
minority members to affect union elections," Neal added.
"We became true friends: a southern black boy from Mounds,
Louisiana, and a white guitar picker from Florida." Nevada's
first African-American senator will lead the commemoration of
his fellow César Chávez Hall of Famer next March.
In his later years, Price suffered through serious health problems,
including a hospital-contracted MRSA bacterial infection that
eventually cost him the use of his legs. Family and friends were
amazed when he beat the beastly microbes and returned home after
a long convalescence.
It was not the first time Price beat the reaper. In
1998, he made national headlines when he suffered a heart attack
on a plane arriving at the Reno airport. He was revived by
quick-thinking Rosalind Clarke of Aptos, Calif., who learned
CPR because she had witnessed her father's death as a child. She
had never used her training before that day. Price underwent a
triple heart bypass shortly thereafter. Ms. Clarke visited him
in the hospital.
"Bob's union passions pre-empted pain," remembers NevadaLabor.com
editor Andrew Barbano.
"Several years ago, Nancy picked up Bob from a short hospital
stay to bring him home. Instead, the old union electrician insisted
on going straight to that evening's César Chávez
event," Barbano added. Notwithstanding a wheelchair, he attended
every subsequent César celebration through last March.
Price was known as an affable individual who would serenade his
fellow lawmakers with his guitar and conduct sing-alongs during
delays in the long late-night hours of waning legislative sessions.
"His advocacy for working families and the poor was always
serious, fierce and unyielding," Neal remembers.
Price sometimes paid a heavy price. Because he refused to allow
regressive sales taxes through his committee, Assembly Speaker
Joe Dini, D-Yerington, removed special interest taxation from
Price's purview so that Nevada's tradition of taxing those least
able to pay could proceed.
Majority Leader Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, unceremoniously
informed Price of the almost unheard-of maneuver that despite
his seniority and experience, he had been stripped of his longtime
chairmanship and made chair of a new minor committee in 1999.
Adding insult to injury, Perkins barred Price from bringing his
guitar to entertain his colleagues during long end-of-session
Reno casinos thus got the downtown railroad trench for which they
were not willing to pay. City of Reno taxpayers will continue
to shoulder a heavy burden for decades to come. The city has long
been in default because the trench taxes which Price opposed have
not covered construction loan payments.
Making matters worse, the city's principal lenders, Goldman
Sachs and Deutschebank, are now both on the ropes amid
mounting worldwide financial scandals. In the event of bankruptcies,
a federal judge could order the Nevada legislature to raise taxes
to pay the banks' creditors as has happened in other U.S. jurisdictions.
In 1990, the gambling-industrial complex conducted a scorched-earth
primary campaign against Price for proposing an amendment to stop
casinos from contributing to political campaigns because they
are a regulated industry.
Speaker Dini descended from the podium to
speak against it on the floor, a rare breach of legislative protocol
in addition to a humongous conflict of interest. Dini owned a
Price defeated the casino candidate by 31 votes and returned the
favor by forever fighting firing with fire. For the rest of his
career, he introduced legislation to protect employees from arbitrary
firings, instead requiring just cause for termination. Nevada
unfortunately remains a fire-at-will state in which non-union
workers have few rights.
Price's daughter Teresa continues her father's advocacy
to make the casino industry accountable. She has long been an
activist against smoking in gambling halls and travels the country
speaking on behalf of casino employees.
Assemblymember Price consistently won passage of salary benefits
for legislative staffers forced to work around the clock without
extra compensation at the end of every session. (He didn't think
sing-alongs were enough.) The Nevada Legislature only meets for
120 days every two years, creating a final-week frenzy often resulting
in accidental laws, usually bad ones. (An exception was passage
of one of the strongest open meeting laws in the country
by clerical error.)
Price thus consistently pushed for a state constitutional amendment
requiring annual legislative sessions. As taxation committee chair,
he was instrumental in winning a years-long fight to remove Nevada's
punitive sales tax on groceries.
Fearing for the future of the republic, he engineered passage
of a clever measure wiping from the record Nevada's previous endorsement
of a national constitutional convention. Should the required 33
other states call for such a convention, Price's legislative maneuver
may immortalize him in the annals of constitutional jurisprudence.
Can a state rescind after first supporting a convention? The fate
of the "United" States may rest on that future court
decision. (Some 31 states, including Nevada, have voted for a
convention, albeit for divergent purposes.)
The former hard-hat facilitated passage of ethics legislation,
sunshine laws providing for more government transparency, and
re-naming Nevada State Route 375 as the Extraterrestrial
When the state formally
christened the central Nevada road in 1996, several cast members
of the soon-to-be-released movie blockbuster "Independence
Day" showed up. Not to be outdone, the onetime Nevada
Nuclear Test Site electrician donned a Darth Vader
helmet and upstaged the stars. The Hollywood media machine made
Darth Price an international celebrity for about 15 minutes.
Robert Earle Price, Jr., was born May 23, 1936, in DeLand,
Florida, or so he thought. The 1940 U.S. Census states he was
born in Texas. Neither state has a record. Robert Earle Price,
Sr., was an electrical lineman. After the death of his wife,
the former Mary Grace Davis, the father took his son and
hit the road. They sang, strummed and rodeo'd their way across
A 12 year-old Bob met Hattie Bohr Bishop and introduced
her to his dad. She would often say "I married the man to
get the kid." Price Sr. was a calf roper and cowboy. Bob
Junior graduated from high school and learned his father's trade
in Cheyenne, Wyoming, before the family moved to the Silver State.
He worked at Levy Realty in Las Vegas between construction
"Bob Price and the Gambling Ranch Hands" was
a TV show when Las Vegas had only one television station. (No
wonder he got along with Elvis.)
He qualified for a private pilot's license and co-owned several
"Bob married a blonde, a brunette and a redhead, not necessarily
in that order," Nancy Price quips. She served six years as
an elected regent of the Nevada System of Higher Education and
retired as an Air National Guard chief master sergeant.
"Legend has it that tiny Nancy can shoot both eyes out of
a one-eyed jack at 300 yards," Barbano said, "which
explains why it's hard to find a complete deck of cards at Chez
Price in Sparks."
Bob Price fathered daughters Teresa, Amber and Cherie
with the former Shirley Slater. He later married the former
Brenda Denson and adopted her son, William Randal Price.
On March 3, 1984, with Nevada Gov. and Mrs. Richard Bryan
in attendance, he married Nancy Horner Bogan.
He was preceded in death by his parents, step-mother, former wives,
daughter, Amber; and step-son Thomas Robert Horner. He
is survived by his wife of 34 years, Nancy, and her son David
Bogan. He is further survived by daughters Teresa Price
of Las Vegas and Cherie Price-Steiner of Newport Beach,
California; a sister, Edna Schwenk of Erie, Pennsylvania;
step-son William Randal Price and numerous grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
"My husband Bob made people laugh, the greatest gift one
can give," Nancy Price muses.
"Nevadans will long remember the great gift of Bob Price
passing thru their lives," Barbano stated.
Condolences and remembrances may be sent for posting to <firstname.lastname@example.org>
First comment posted: "Another Elvis has left the building."
To paraphrase Neil Young, long may he strum.