John Klai headshot
Oct. 9, 2023

With deep respect and profound empathy, we honor the life of John Reynolds Klai II, FAIA, a cherished resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, who peacefully passed away on Saturday, Sept. 2, surrounded by his beloved husband, Jon Sparer, FAIA; their loving family; and their faithful canine companions, Bruno and Dexter.

John's journey began in the rural town of Osnabrock, North Dakota, a place where small-town values cultivated the seeds of his boundless generosity. Despite humble beginnings, he pursued his passion for architecture with unwavering determination. After a brief stint in accounting at the University of North Dakota, an engineering class ignited his architectural calling. He toiled diligently in his father's construction business to fund his architectural dreams at North Dakota State University, ultimately graduating with distinction.

In 1978, John embarked on a new chapter, moving to Las Vegas to contribute his visionary talents to Marnell Corrao Associates. From the enchanting Caesars Palace fantasy suites tower expansion to iconic projects like Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the Forum Shops at Caesars, and the ‘Guitar Tower’ casino expansion at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL., his architectural legacy radiated across the nation. His illustrious 40-year career, which extended to 25 states, was a testament to his dedication to practice of architecture.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, John's love story with Jon Sparer, a fellow architect, added warmth and depth to his life. Their 38-year relationship culminating in their union in 2014 symbolized their shared journey, filled with global adventures and road trips across North America, often in the company of their cherished dogs. John's heart overflowed with affection for his family, their San Diego beachfront retreat, shared bike rides, and unwavering support for his beloved sports teams.

Yet, John's compassionate spirit extended far beyond his personal sphere. He dedicated his time and resources to nurturing the next generation of architects at NDSU and UNLV. His altruism also touched numerous organizations, including KNPR, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum, and countless others that benefited from his philanthropic endeavors. His remarkable service to the architectural profession and the community garnered numerous accolades and awards, reflecting his unwavering commitment to society.

In celebrating John's extraordinary life, we are reminded of the profound impact one person can have through empathy, generosity, and dedication. His legacy will forever resonate throughout the Las Vegas community, the UNLV School of Architecture, and the UNLV College of Fine Arts. The memory of our beloved friend, John Reynolds Klai II, FAIA, will be cherished with the utmost respect and admiration.