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Funeral to be held Tuesday for former Gov. Kenny Guinn

Updated Friday, July 23, 2010 | 7:49 p.m.

Kenny Guinn 1936 - 2010

Former Governor Kenny Guinn is seen as a Clark County School District Administrator in a photo circa 1967. Launch slideshow »

Kenny Guinn at a glance

  • Born Aug. 24, 1936, in Garland, Ark.
  • Moved to Nevada, 1964
  • Superintendent, Clark County School District, 1969 to 1978
  • President, Nevada Savings and Loan, 1978 to 1987
  • President and chairman, PriMerit Bank, 1987 to 1988
  • Chairman and CEO, Southwest Gas, 1988 to 1997
  • Acting president, UNLV, 1994 to 1995
  • Nevada’s 27th governor, January 1999 to January 2007
  • Board member, MGM Resorts International, May 2007 to present
  • Died Thursday, age 73
  • Survived by wife, Dema, and sons Jeff and Steve
  • A funeral Mass for former Gov. Kenny Guinn has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Catholic Church in Las Vegas.

    A viewing is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the church, 7260 W. Sahara Ave., the family announced today.

    Guinn, who served eight years as Nevada’s chief executive, died Thursday. He was 73.

    Guinn’s two sons and his former chief-of-staff held a brief press conference outside the family home in Las Vegas Friday to announce plans for the services and to thank the community for its support.

    “My mother wanted to make sure you knew that we are humbled and extremely grateful for the incredible outpouring of support we have received over the last 24 hours,” son Jeff Guinn said.

    “As you can imagine, our father’s passing came as a terrible shock and we are still trying to come to terms with that loss. Please know that my family and I are touched by the hundreds of e-mails and phone calls we have received in that short time. They serve as a reminder of how beloved our father was by people from all parts of our state and community,” he said.

    Former chief-of-staff Pete Ernaut said Kenny Guinn’s wife, Dema, has received phone calls from people across the country, including Gov. Jim Gibbons, former governors and former President George W. Bush.

    “I know that outpouring has been very helpful in the healing and grieving process for the family,” Ernaut said.

    Son Steve Guinn said, “It’s been pretty humbling to see how many people he touched.”

    The Guinn family has asked that donations be made to the Kenny C. Guinn Memorial Millennium Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers.

    “I think first and foremost, the governor’s legacy will be the Millennium Scholarship,” Ernaut said.

    “It has changed the lives of generations of kids, and I think that he would want to be known most for that. There were a number of other things as well, but I think, really, the Millennium Scholarship will be Kenny Guinn’s legacy,” he said.

    The Millennium Scholarship was established under Guinn to help Nevada high school students attend college in the state. It has been in danger recently because of state budget cuts.

    Legislators earlier this month propped it up until 2011 by diverting more than $4.2 million from a separate college savings program.

    “Clearly, Gov. Guinn was passionate about education in this state,” said former Guinn spokesman Steve George, who is now chief of staff for the state treasurer, who administers the Millennium Scholarship. “This is a fitting memorial to his memory that first lady Dema Guinn and his family have created in his honor.”

    George said donations will be kept in a separate account and be used only for students’ tuition costs.

    Checks can be sent to: Kenny C. Guinn Memorial Millennium Scholarship Fund, State Treasurer’s Office, 101 N. Carson Street, Suite 4, Carson City, NV 89701.

    Guinn was also remembered for his hard work.

    He was tough and focused on making his children get an education, be disciplined, help others and put family first, Jeff Guinn said.

    That work ethic applied at home, in business and in his service as governor, Ernaut said.

    “He was almost every day the first person there and the last person to leave,” he said. “He outworked all the staff that were 20 to 30 years younger. I think Kenny Guinn’s work ethic was a great model not only for governors to come but for all young people to aspire to.”

    The former governor’s official cause of death still has not been determined by the Clark County Coroner’s Office. Ernaut said the Guinn family talked to the coroner again Friday afternoon.

    “There is no conclusive proof of the cause of death,” Ernaut said. “They believe the battery of tests necessary to determine that cause will take up to two weeks to complete, so we don’t believe there will be a conclusive cause of death determined for two weeks.”

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