Former Reno Mayor Bob Cashell passed away today. A politician, humanitarian, casino and business owner, Cashell, whose most recent stint in public service was as mayor from 2002 to 2014, touched countless lives.
He was, above all, an advocate and booster for the greater Reno community.
He served as a regent for the University of Nevada System starting in 1979 and later served as Lt. Governor in 1982.
Though popular and widely regarded, he was not everybody’s friend. After his long tenure as mayor, one local official described City Hall as being “Mafia-like,” where backdoor deals allegedly were a norm.
“At least you know where he stood,” the official quipped.
Cashell helped nix a bold marketing campaign proposed by RSCVA staff that was regarded by local media and marketing professionals as boundary-pushing.
He was, however, widely respected.
Cashell, a Republican, was a statesman recognized for reaching across the aisle politically. He was a friend of former U.S. Senator Harry Reid and supported Reid over Republican challengers.
“[Cashell] called the extreme right element of the current GOP party the RINOs, not himself of Sen. Bill Raggio … who also endorsed Reid over [Sharron] Angle,” Sean Whaley, writing for the Nevada News Bureau, reported in 2010.
Cashell was also unabashedly opinionated. He famously wanted, during the recession, a moratorium on tattoo shops, calling Reno’s prominence of liquor stores and tattoo parlors “pathetic.”
The moratorium was rejected. Turns out, tattoo parlors are protected by the First Amendment.
The Reno News & Review jokingly reported that Cashell later reversed course and got a tattoo of the Reno arch.
“I was just really impressed with the creativity,” the RNR satirically quoted Mayor Bob at the time. “Those guys are really artists. And I was stoked about how many Reno tattoos I saw—you know, tattoos that literally represent Reno—and it just occurred to me that it’s a great way to show your Reno pride. Represent!”
Several major Reno fixtures exist because of his efforts: the whitewater park downtown, the ReTrac train trench, the Aces ballpark, and the Reno Events Center, among others.
Tributes, remembrances flood social media today
The community is mourning Cashell’s death. Condolences from friends, coworkers and colleagues are being posted all over social media and sent to the news media.
“There are few, in the entire history of northern Nevada, who have had such a profound impact on our community,” said Rick Reviglio, owner of Western Nevada Supply. “Wherever you look, Bob’s fingerprint is deeply embedded. He and the entire Cashell family have touched so many in our community. It has been an honor to call him a dear friend.”
“Mayor Bob Cashell was an icon, a pioneer and irreplaceable regional leader propelling businesses in our community and elevating northern Nevada as a whole, through his vision, savvy and personal philanthropic efforts,” said Washoe County Commission Chair Bob Lucey.
Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve praised him today even though Cashell endorsed her challenger, Ray Pezonella, when Schieve first ran for mayor in 2014 while she was a councilmember.
“He touched so many lives with his larger than life personality. He loved the entire Reno community like they were his very own family,” she said. “His legacy will forever be remembered as one of Reno’s greatest. We all love you, Cash, and will miss you more than you ever know.”
Councilmember Neoma Jardon called Cashell a lifelong mentor.
“He was the reason I got into public service,” she said.
Gary Carano of Eldorado Resorts: “From Bill and Effies Truck Stop to Boomtown to the Board of Regents to the State Capitol to the Mayor of Reno, he always had a special knack for what his customers and constituents needed and wanted. He was a cherished friend to the Carano family and admired by many throughout Nevada and across America. His legacy will live on.”
Cashell is survived by his wife, Nancy, their four children and nine grandchildren.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.