Nevadans mourned the death and remembered the life of Assembly Speaker Emeritus Joe Dini.
Dini, 85, who died Thursday morning, served in the Legislature for 34 years.
Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, announced Dini’s death at an Interim Finance Committee meeting in Las Vegas, saying he was one of Nevada’s most influential modern lawmakers.
Brendan Riley, who covered the Nevada Legislature from 1971 until 2009 for The Associated Press, said Dini was his favorite legislator.
“Everyone in politics will tell you a fib. Everyone,” Riley said, sharing his favorite Dini story. “If Joe couldn’t give you a straight answer, he would tell you with a smile. I’d ask him a question, and he’d say, ‘I don’t know, Brendan,’ with the biggest smile. That let me know I was on the right track, but I had to get somebody else to give me the information. He did it every time.”
After 36 years in the state Assembly, Dini decided in 2002 against seeking re-election.
Dini served the second longest in the Nevada Legislature. Only Sen. Lawrence “Jake” Jacobsen, R-Minden, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1963, served longer.
Lyon County Manager Jeff Page, speaking on behalf of the board of county commissioners and county, offered condolences to the Dini family.
“Joe Dini was the shining example of a statesman and all public servants, appointed or elected, should strive to be the example that Joe was,” Page said. “Joe was successful in the Legislature because he was willing and able to work through issues and problems. He did not see things from a north-south, urban-rural or Democrat-Republican point of view. He saw things from a State of Nevada point of view. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the Dini family. He and his family have operated a successful business in Yerington and have been great contributors to the community.”
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who served with Dini, said he transcended partisanship.
“He was a person who transcended partisan labels and did more in a given week during a legislative session for Nevada than most do in a year,” Amodei said. “When you look up ‘Mr. Speaker’ in the Nevada dictionary, Joe Dini’s picture is there. The consummate Yerington Lion from Mason Valley, his lifetime accomplishments for his community and his state are without equal.”
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said Dini was a statesman.
“With the passing of Joe Dini, Nevada has lost a statesman, a dedicated public servant, and a man who will be remembered for encouraging respect among his colleagues,” Heller said. “Joe’s colleagues elected him speaker of the Nevada State Assembly eight times, which is a remarkable testament to his leadership abilities and the distinction with which he served.”
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Thursday said Dini was a close friend.
“A true legislator, he understood that legislation is the art of compromise and as a moderate Democrat, Joe worked with fellow legislators and governors from both sides of the aisle,” Reid said. “I can think of no higher praise, than when the late Bill Raggio said Joe had, ‘one of the greatest legislative careers in the state of Nevada,’ and I agree. He devoted his life to public service, and always had every Nevadans’ interests at heart. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”
Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick praised Dini for his service.