Irwin Molasky Remembered as Founding Chairman of UNLV Foundation

John O'Reilly, Irwin Molasky, and Elaine Wynn present on Annual Dinner stage.
Tommy McDonald, Merv Adelson, Gaby Whitaker, Irwin Molasky, Valda Boyne Esau, and Howard Capps burying a time capsule.

Pictured (L-R): Tommy McDonald, Merv Adelson, Gaby Whitaker, Irwin Molasky, Valda Boyne Esau, and Howard Capps burying a time capsule at the opening of Stardust Golf Course in 1961. Image courtesy of the UNLV Libraries.

Jul. 9, 2020

Las Vegas real estate developer Irwin Molasky, chairman of the Molasky Group of Companies, passed away on July 4. A beloved community leader, Molasky was involved with UNLV since its inception, having donated 45 acres of land at Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road for the university's initial development. Indeed, this generous gift helped UNLV grow to become the institution it is today.

Molasky was elected founding chairman of the UNLV Foundation in 1981, and he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from UNLV in 2009.

His professional accomplishments are prolific. A resident of Las Vegas since 1951, Molasky co-founded Paradise Development with Merv Adelson and built Paradise Palms, the first master-planned community in Clark County. The two were partners in several other projects as well, including Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, the first private hospital in the area. In 1978, he co-founded the first hospice in Southern Nevada in honor of Adelson’s father Nathan.

In 2011, Molasky spoke at the UNLV Foundation’s Annual Dinner with friend and Trustee Emerita Elaine Wynn. In a program celebrating the Foundation’s 30th anniversary moderated by then-Board Chairman John O’Reilly, Molasky gave comments about why UNLV meant so much to him: “I live here, my wife lives here, our children grew up here,” Molasky said. “Our friends and their families live here, my clients, employees, and their families live here. For Las Vegas to prosper, the University has to prosper.

“I’m a businessman,” he continued. “I understand competition, I understand free markets and the choices people make. In order to be a world-class city, we need people to choose Las Vegas. We need to provide opportunity, we need the arts, we need athletics, we need the Barrick Lecture Series.  And we need the thousands of alumni who will be our children’s teachers, our bankers, and yes, John [O’Reilly, then chair of the board], even our lawyers! We need a university we can be proud of.”

Molasky also participated with the UNLV University Libraries’ Southern Nevada Jewish Community Heritage Project. Launched in 2014, the project is designed to celebrate the integral roles that Jewish people have played in the history of Southern Nevada and preserves these stories for future generations. Molasky’s story is available here.

Molasky is survived by children Beth Molasky-Cornell, Steven Molasky, Andrew Molasky and Alan Molasky; stepchildren Michael Frey, Gary Frey, Robert Frey and Daryl Irwin; 13 grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, companion Cheryl Irwin and wife Susan Molasky.

“We couldn’t be more proud of his legacy,” his son Steven told the Las Vegas Sun. “We, throughout our whole lives, are trying to emanate what he taught us in our businesses and our lives, and we’re very proud to have him as our mentor, and then carry on what he did.”

– Stephanie Balzer

Top photo: John O'Reilly, Irwin Molasky, and Elaine Wynn present on stage at the 2011 UNLV Foundation Annual Dinner.