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Cashell made his mark

On Tuesday, Nevada lost a member of the exclusive club of gaming impresarios who shaped the casino industry for decades before corporations started to take over.

There were never very many of them, but Bob Cashell is one of the last of that exclusive club of leaders who were replaced by bottom lines and boards of directors.

Cashell recognized that there was more to the casino business than putting up a big sign and opening the doors. He was an expert marketer.

Back before he was the three-term mayor of Reno, Cashell was tapped to operate the troubled Ormsby House, which had been acquired in a second bankruptcy in a few years.

He managed to turn the property into something attractive enough that someone would be willing to spend $3.75 million to buy it, despite the obvious risk.

That effort culminated in a Nevada Day fireworks show that sent showers of sparks over the side of the building, one literally bright moment in the property’s otherwise discouraging history.

As Nevada lieutenant governor and mayor of Reno, Cashell was a tireless booster for the Silver State, but most telling to us was that the first statements about his death came from the president of the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Board of Regents.

Cashell recognized the value of higher education early on in his career and was the first freshman regent to be named chairman of the board. He was named a Distinguished Nevadan. In 2000, he and his son purchased the Topaz Lodge in southern Douglas County.

Cashell was a member of a generation that included casino owners like Harvey Gross, Sharkey Begovich, Bill Harrah and John Ascuaga.

Their participation in the public life of our state and of Douglas County contributed significantly to improve the lives of our residents, and not just with good works.

There was a time in Nevada when a casino job meant someone could afford a home and build a prosperous life for themselves.

Those days seem to have gone by the wayside, but we should honor those who made it possible.