Obituary: Joni Wines
Best known as the tiny 5′ 2″ Pistol Packing Sheriff of Nye County in the 70s, who went to war against the drug trade and other lawlessness, Joni Wines was elected after vowing to knock on every door in the most far-flung county in the country. She managed to get four indictments before stirring up enough concern by Las Vegas power brokers to, many believed, finance a campaign for recall. The story was the basis for a CBS Movie of the Week called Incident at Crestridge, with Eileen Brennan playing the role of sheriff.
However, the thing closest to her heart was her family of six children. At times working three jobs, she worked at the Zephyr Cove schools for 20 years, ran the 24-hour Grandy’s Child Care Center for over 50 years in Stateline and Las Vegas, while vigorously supporting her kids numerous sports activities. Joni never missed a single game in which any Wines participated – even taking a train to North Dakota for a basketball game. She was very proud of her family, who all agree her finest trait was her natural ability to find something good in every person or situation.
Born Marcia McKee in Davenport, Iowa, her parents, Pauline (nee Scott) and Lloyd C. McKee, later moved to Dallas, Texas where two more siblings were added, and then to Rochester, N.Y. when the depression hit. During WWII her older brother, Bob went to war while she and younger siblings, Kim and Dan moved temporarily to Albion, N.Y. because Joni’s father feared an attack on the industrial city of Rochester. She was head cheerleader and graduated from Albion High School. Joni went to work in NYC at the Rockefeller Music Center, and then Wright Patterson Air Base in Ohio, where she acquired a nickname ‘Johnny on the Spot’ in the office. It stuck, but she later feminized it to Joni. It was during that time she and several others saw what they firmly believed to be a UFO over the base.
After the war the family moved to Boulder, where she attended Colorado University and met her husband, James Blaine Wines Jr. She flew with United Air Lines for three years as a stewardess and then married Blaine on February 23, 1952 during a power outage in Elko, Nevada, where his family has ranched for generations. Next month would have been their 60th anniversary. They began married life at Lake Tahoe, where he did accounting for his uncle, ‘Spec’ Rahbeck at Nevada Lumber. They started building their house on Kingsbury Grade in 1959, which has been in a state of construction ever since as the family grew: James Blaine III (Kris); Kelly Kim, deceased in 2010; Shannon Taylor (Peggy); Kevin Lance (Renee); Tacy Jane Willens (Larry) and Lindsay Ann Harland (Rob). Also surviving are 16 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Ever the activist, Joni also ran for Governor of Nevada, U.S. Congress, State Assembly and Senate. She was appointed to the Nevada Commission on Ethics by Gov. Bob Miller, an office very important to her, where she served two terms representing Stateline and Las Vegas. Joni was also a member of the Red Hat Society, which she greatly enjoyed.
A Celebration of Life Memorial will be held at the Wines family home in Stateline, NV, on Monday, February 6 at 2:00. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kelly Wines Memorial Scholarship Fund at Whittell High School. For more information call 775-771-5950.