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October 23, 2014

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Bill Raggio, legendary state senator, dies while on trip in Australia

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Sam Morris

Former state Sen. Bill Raggio, shown here during the 2010 special legislative session, died Thursday at age 85 after falling ill while on a trip in Australia with his wife, Dale.

Bill Raggio

Senator Bill Raggio hands copies of his statement to reporters after delivering it on the floor of the Senate during the second day of the legislative special session Tuesday, February 23, 2010 in Carson City. In the statement, Raggio pushed back against attacks made against him Tuesday by Gov. Jim Gibbons. Asked afterward if he respected Gibbons, Raggio said, Launch slideshow »

Bill Raggio, perhaps the most influential Nevada legislator in history, has died.

He was 85.

Raggio and his wife, Dale, were on a trip to Australia when he took ill. He passed away in a hospital in Sydney late Thursday evening.

Longtime family friend Greg Ferraro said, “Officially, Bill Raggio passed away last night at 10pm PST of respiratory illness in Sydney Australia. Funeral arrangements are pending.”

Raggio recently published a book with Mike Archer about his life called, “A Man of His Word.” He served in the state Senate from 1973 until he resigned shortly before the 2011 session. He previously was district attorney of Washoe County.

Gov. Brian Sandoval released this statement: "With the death of Senator Bill Raggio, one of the great lights in the world of Nevada politics has gone out. Senator Raggio's career exemplified the very best of public service. His dedication to law and order, higher education, and the fiscal health of this great state spanned literally decades of Nevada history and touched the lives of tens of thousands of Nevadans. Kathleen and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the Raggio family in their time of mourning. I have said before that if there was a Mount Rushmore of Nevada politics, Bill Raggio's image would forever be carved there. The Nevada family has lost a great patriarch; may God rest his soul as we remember all that he meant to our state.”

The Governor intends to order flags to half-staff on the day of Raggio’s funeral.

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