Gov. Kenny C. Guinn

Gov. Kenny C. Guinn

Kenny C. Guinn was a popular two-term governor, educator and business leader. He served from 1999 to 2007 as the 27th Governor of Nevada and quickly developed a reputation as a tough, pragmatic leader more interested in getting things done than pushing a partisan political agenda.

During his tenure, he successfully overhauled government agency operations, revamped budgeting and tax collections, created the Guinn Millennium Scholarship Program, oversaw the privatization of the state workers compensation system, vetoed plans to bury nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and became an expert on the Nevada budget. In 2005, Guinn was named by Time magazine as one of the five best governors in America.

Guinn's own words from his 2001 State of the State Address explain his definition of success: "I believe we must measure success by how we are able to care for the most fragile of our citizens—our children, our elderly, and those who are disabled. We cannot afford to do everything, but there are some things we can't afford not to do."

Guinn was most proud of the programs created during his tenure that helped the needy. He created the Nevada Senior Rx Program to assist Nevada's seniors with their medication costs. Guinn and his wife, Dema, also lent their full support to the Nevada Mammovan program, which provides mammograms and gynecological exams to uninsured women in Nevada. The first couple also promoted the Nevada Check Up program for children and increased enrollment from 1,800 children to 30,000 children.

Guinn attended USC on an athletic scholarship and later transferred to Fresno State University, where he played football and basketball while earning a degree in physical education. He earned a master's in physical education at Fresno State, began doctoral studies at Stanford University and later earned a doctorate in 1970 from Utah State.

In 1964, Guinn moved to Las Vegas, where he joined the Clark County School District as an administrator. Five years later, he was named superintendent of CCSD. Guinn left the school district in 1978 to become a bank executive. He later became chairman and CEO of Southwest Gas. He also served for one year as interim president of UNLV before seeking the governor's office. Education always remained at the forefront of his priorities. He once said, "Education is not on my agenda; education is my agenda."

Following his terms as governor, Guinn was a member of the Board of Directors of MGM Resorts International and served on many charitable and community boards and panels.

He died unexpectedly in 2010 at the age of 73. He is survived by his wife, Dema; his sons: Jeffrey and his wife, Monica, and Steven and his wife, Wynn; grandchildren: Blake, Austin, Colton, Hannah, Ryan, and Sarah; brother, Chuck, and his wife, Doris; and sisters: Shirley Blair and her husband, Jay, and Linda Rieke and her husband, Gary.