Obituary: Barbara F. Vucanovich

June 22, 1921 - June 10, 2013

Former U.S. Representative Barbara F. Vucanovich died Monday, June 10, 2013 after a brief illness. Born June 22, 1921 in Camp Dix, New Jersey, Vucanovich was the daughter of Major General Thomas Farrell and Ynez White Farrell. Vucanovich graduated from the Albany Academy for Girls and attended Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in New York.

In 1982, Vucanovich became the first person elected to Nevada’s Second Congressional District and the first woman from Nevada to serve in the House of Representatives. She was elected to seven terms and retired in 1996, serving the second longest tenure of any Nevadan in the House. She was elected Republican Conference Secretary (one of the four leadership positions) in the 104th Congress, making her the first Nevadan to serve in a leadership position in House of Representatives.

Vucanovich served on the Presidential Debate Commission, the Commission to Select White House Fellows, and the Fund Board of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Justices. She was a trustee on the Board of Saint Mary’s Health Network and the Board of Casa de Vida, and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The University of Nevada, Reno awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in 2004. The main post office in Reno was named the Barbara F. Vucanovich Post Office in her honor.

Vucanovich is survived by her daughter, Patricia Dillon Cafferata and son-in-law, Dr. H. Treat Cafferata of Reno; son, Kenneth P. Dillon, Jr. and daughter-in-law, Sandra Dillon of Reno; son, Tom Dillon and daughter-in-law, Catherine deTar Dillon of Statesville, North Carolina; daughter, Susan Dillon Anderson and son-in-law, Grant “Butch” Anderson III of Reno; brother, Stephen Farrell of Reno; 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Thomas, Jr., Peter, and Richard Farrell; sister, Patricia Naleid; husbands, Ken Dillon, Sr. and George Vucanovich; a son, Michael F. Dillon, Sr., a grandson, Trevor P. Dillon, and a great-grandson, Thomas Daniel Golden.

A Rosary was held Thursday, June 13 at Our Lady of the Snows Church in Reno. A Funeral Mass of Resurrection was held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Friday, June 14. Burial services were private.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to Casa de Vida, 1290 Mill Street, Reno, NV 89502 or the Nevada Women’s History Project, 770 Smithridge Drive #300, Reno, NV 89502. The family invites condolence messages in the “family guestbook” at the website

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Walton Funeral Home in Reno.


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