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Former Tribal vice chair dies Sunday

by Joyce Hollister, Staff Writer

Washoe Tribe and Carson Valley community leaders remembered Dabert Wyatt as a decent, kind, conscientious man who dedicated his life to the service of others.

Wyatt, 63, died Sunday after a long illness.

“In a number of dimensions, Dabert was a part of many people’s lives,” said A. Brian Wallace, chairman of the Washoe Tribe. “On Saturday at the Democratic Central Committee meeting, we were recognizing his efforts in providing leadership, representing the whole community, not just the Washoe Tribe. He touched a lot of people.”

Wyatt served as vice chair of the tribe and chair as well as vice chair of the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee. He was a founding member of the Washoe Development Corp. and served on the Washoe enterprise board until two months ago.

He was a founding member of the Washoe Cultural Foundation and, since the early 1980s, he promoted Washoe homeland repatriation at Lake Tahoe. He was a longtime member of the SITE council, an advisory board for the Washoe Tribe Senior Citizens Center.

“Probably the most valuable thing to an Indian person beyond anything else,” said Wallace, “is at the end of the day to be able to understand that we’ve lived a good life. I think Dabert set a standard that’s worthy of achieving for all of us. If we could even get halfway there, then many of us should be very happy.”

Wyatt was recognized as Distinguished Washoe Citizen of the Year in 1994, Wallace said, an honor that is bestowed annually on a tribal member.

“I’ve worked with Dabert for many years, and he’s going to leave a big vacancy in the community, in our lives,” Wallace said. “His shoes are going to be very hard to fill, if they can be filled at all.”

Wyatt took a leading role in voter registration in the Washoe community and was instrumental in establishing the Dresslerville precinct, which is often the only precinct in Douglas County to vote Democratic.

Former Douglas County Democratic chair Jack Sheehan, for whom Wyatt was vice chair, said, “Dabert was always somebody you could count on. You always knew he was there as a friend and a supporter for the Democratic party.”

Sheehan was a tribal judge at one time, inspired, he said, by Wyatt to take the position.

“I witnessed Dabert as a leader in the Indian community and a strong supporter of the Indian community,” he said.

Wyatt had also worked as finance officer for the Washoe Housing Authority.

WHA director Virginia Kizer said, “Dabert always felt that everyone should have an opportunity to participate in the housing program, but also follow the rules of the program. He was a fair and kind person and always gave the other person the benefit of the doubt.”

Wyatt left his job at the WHA because of his illness.

“He will be greatly missed by everyone,” Kizer said. “It is a great loss to the tribe, and I hope that people will continue his dreams His dream was that everyone be able to obtain a home and enjoy it.”

Corinne Moore, director of the Washoe senior center, said that his ideas for the center were always positive, and he was especially interested in preserving Washoe culture and traditions.

Marlena Hellwinkel, president of the Carson Valley Historical Society, said Wyatt was a hardworking member of the board for many years.

“He was a devoted, faithful trustee,” she said. “He was always willing to pitch in and help. He was a delight to have around. He was a special person in his own way.”

Wyatt’s health was ebbing away for the last couple of years, Hellwinkel said, but she never heard him complain.

“He was a very brave man.”

Harriet Wise and Bob and Jerri Gable worked with Wyatt on the Democratic Central Committee. They all agreed he was outgoing and caring, proud of his heritage and proud to be an active Democrat.

Evan Beavers, who has been legal counsel for the Washoe Tribe and the development corporation and was also chair of the Douglas Democratic party, knew Wyatt in several capacities.

He also called Wyatt brave and courageous, standing up for what he considered to be the right course of action.

“He would do what he thought was necessary and encourage others to do what was necessary.”

Beavers will speak at a funeral service Friday, 1 p.m., at Walton’s Chapel of the Valley in Carson City. Burial will be at Genoa Cemetery, with dinner to follow at Dresslerville gym.

Gim Hollister, who also worked with Wyatt on the central committee and was chairman in the late 1980s, said Wyatt was “the dearest, kindest person I’ve known in many, many years. He helped us, the Democrats, to the detriment of his own health. We all loved him dearly for the efforts he put forth. I miss him.”