By: Christina Almeida, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Mike O’Callaghan, a popular former Nevada governor and executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun, died Friday of an apparent heart attack. He was 74.
O’Callaghan was attending morning Mass at St. Viator Catholic Church when he collapsed, said Sheila Dillon, his longtime executive secretary. He died at a hospital.
“”Nevada lost a treasure today,”” Gov. Kenny Guinn said in a statement. “”I lost a friend and a role model.””
Guinn, a Republican, praised O’Callaghan for tackling tough issues as governor, including the welfare of disadvantaged children, the preservation of Lake Tahoe, and affordable housing in Las Vegas. “”As the editor of the Las Vegas Sun, he served not only as an important voice in Nevada but also acted as its conscience,”” Guinn said.
A Democrat, O’Callaghan served eight years as governor beginning in 1971.
He was born and raised in Wisconsin and Minnesota and was a Korean War veteran.
He later became a teacher in Nevada, and one of his students was U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. He was the state’s first health and welfare director, and a regional director in the federal Office of Emergency Preparedness before turning to politics.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, five children and 15 grandchildren.