Tributes pour in for Vucanovich

Here are some of the statements about Barbara Vucanovich, the former congresswoman who passed away Monday at the age of 91:

Her mentor, ex-Sen. Paul Laxalt:

“It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of my dear friend, Barbara “Barbie” Vucanovich.  She was an historic, trail-blazing figure in Nevada politics.  Indeed, she was the first woman elected to represent Nevada in a federal office, and she was the first Nevadan to serve in a leadership position in the House of Representatives.  But to Barbie, regardless of her political achievements, what mattered most was her family.  Politicians often make such a claim,  but in Barbie’s case, it was a fact. 

“I first met Barbara Vucanovich in 1962 when she and her husband at the time, Ken Dillon, worked on my successful campaign for lieutenant governor.  In 1964, I ran for the U.S. Senate, and she ran my Washoe County campaign while grieving the loss of Ken, who had died earlier in the year from a heart attack.  She performed brilliantly, but we lost a controversial race by less than 100 votes.  She again played a vital role in my run for governor in 1966.  It was the finest campaign that I had been involved in, and Barbie was once again a cornerstone of the effort.  Finally, she again proved invaluable in my successful U.S. Senate campaign in 1974.    
“In my campaign experience, I found that it was often the women who moved political mountains.  Women like Barbara Vucanovich and Hazel Gardella were incredible in what they were able to accomplish.  They weren’t “talkers”; they were “doers”.  In fact, there is no way I would have won statewide political office in Nevada without the likes of Barbara Vucanovich doing the difficult “spade work” that is essential to any successful campaign.
“After I was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, I asked Barbie to run my Northern Nevada District office.  It was such a relief knowing that I had someone so capable and trustworthy watching my “political back” in that part of the state.  
“When the Second Congressional District opened up in 1982, I urged Barbie to run.  The District and Barbie were made for each other.  Running as “a tough grandmother”, she won the  race and made history.  She served with honor and distinction in the House for seven terms.  She could have served for as long as she wanted, but she eventually stepped down in 1996 to care for her beloved husband, George Vucanovich, who was battling leukemia.  Her popularity in the District derived from the fact that she stayed in close contact with her constituents, knew the issues that were important to them, and never lost the common touch.  Of course, through it all, she was a proud Reagan conservative.
“When I first heard the news that she was gravely ill, it felt like one of my sisters was dying.  Thankfully, I had a chance to visit with Barbie by phone the other day.  It was a difficult call, but it gave both of us a chance to say our final goodbyes.  And it gave me one last chance to say, “Thank you, Barbie.  Thank you for so much.”  
“Carol joins me in extending our prayers and condolences to Barbara’s wonderful family including her beloved children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Rep. Mark Amodei:
“As the first person to hold Nevada's Second Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Barbara set the standard for effective public service with humility. Nevadans have never been better represented than when Barbara Vucanovich was their Congresswoman. She was a true Nevadan and public servant. Her contributions to the Silver State are a lasting legacy. My sincere condolences to her family.”
Sen. Dean Heller:

“With the passing of Barbara Vucanovich, the Silver State has lost one of its finest and most well-respected Nevadans. During one of my first trips to Washington, Barbara took me, a complete stranger, to lunch in the Congressional dining hall. Ever since that day, I have admired her and valued her wisdom, experience and friendship. Barbara always stressed that constituent services and responding directly to Nevadans’ needs are the most important responsibilities of public service. Grateful for that advice, I took it to heart and have always tried to follow the high standard she set. Lynne’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Barbara’s family and friends as we join them to mourn the loss of this great Nevadan,” said Senator Dean Heller.

NV Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange:
“As Nevada’s first female Congresswoman, Barbara Vucanovich served as an inspiration to millions of Nevadans.  Congresswoman Vucanovich was a fine public servant and a role model to countless Nevada women who went on to run for office themselves.  My thoughts and prayers are with Barbara’s family in this difficult time.” 
Rep. Joe Heck:

"I am deeply saddened at the loss of Barbara Vucanovich and I join Nevadans around the state in mourning her passing. As the first woman to represent Nevada in the House of Representatives, Barbara was a true trailblazer and all of us who serve as elected officials have been influenced by her remarkable career in some way. As a Senate staffer and a Member of Congress, Barbara was a tireless advocate for the state of Nevada and I have tried to follow her example in serving Nevada's Third District in the House. I offer my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to her family and will keep them in my prayers as they cope with their loss."



Gov. Brian Sandoval:


“With the recent passing of Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain lost its Iron Lady and today the Silver State has lost its Silver Lady.

“Barbara Vucanovich was the matriarch of her political generation – the first woman elected to Congress from Nevada, and the first Nevadan to rise to a position of leadership within the U.S. House of Representatives.  First and foremost, however, Barbara was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  Her family was always her priority, even as she served the entire Nevada family in the United States Congress.

“Barbara was known for protecting rural interests like mining and water, but she fought equally hard to protect gaming and to shield casino workers and retirees from unfair taxation. A breast cancer survivor herself, she worked for funding for early screening, detection and treatment of breast cancer.

“Barbara will perhaps forever be remembered as a gracious, personable leader with her feet on the ground and her priorities where they belonged, right here in Nevada. Kathleen and I extend our deepest sympathies to Barbara’s brother, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”



Washoe County GOP:


We are deeply saddened at the loss of Barbara Vucanovich.  Congresswoman Vucanovich was an inspiration to so many people throughout the years. She was also a model statesman and great example for all politicians who followed her.


Establishing herself as a leader in Congress, she was instrumental in repealing the 55 mph speed limit, a major force in forming the Contract With America with Newt Gingrich and a member of the Appropriations Committee chairing its subcommittee on Military Construction.


This past summer the Washoe County Republican Party was honored to have hosted a tribute to Barbara’s career and to thank her for her contributions to Nevada and our county.  The event included messages from Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Brian Sandoval, Senator Richard Bryan and many others.


Barbara remained very active in the Republican Party and was one of the first people candidates talked to before deciding to run for office.  She was present at party functions and was a featured guest at many of the Romney events in Washoe County this past election cycle.


Nevada has lost a remarkable person and we offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to her family.



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:


“Barbara and I came to Congress together in 1983. She was such a pleasure to work with. She and her late husband George were inseparable whether they were together in DC or in Nevada. I will miss them both very much and my thoughts are with

Rep. Dina Titus:

“As the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress, Barbara helped to break the glass ceiling for Nevada women in the political world. She was a true public servant and a devoted wife and mother. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

Ex-Gov. Bob Miller:
"Nevada lost a stateswoman and a trail blazer today. She was the First Nevada woman elected to the House of Representatives and the first to serve in a leadership role in the House. During her many years in the U.S Congress representing Nevada I had the privilege of working with her. Whether we agreed or disagreed on specific issues one thing was always true - Barbara was always well informed and polite in expressing why she felt her opinions were the correct ones for her beloved Nevada. She was firm but civil in all dialogue which is a trait seemingly less true in today's politics. She was and should continue to be a role model for men and women considering public life."


Ex-Gov. Bob List:


Nevada has suffered a great loss with Barbara’s passing this morning.  Her great love of our state and its


people was matched only by our affection, respect and heartfelt appreciation for this fine woman.


I first met Barbara in the summer of 1959, and in the 54 years that have followed, I saw her expand


her love and dedication from that of a wife and mom to become highly regarded and skilled expert in


Nevada’s political community, serving her party and its principles, and finally to that of a powerful force


for the Silver State in the United States Congress.


It was my privilege in the 1981 legislative session to play a role in helping shape the newly-approved


2nd Congressional District, and to support Barbara in her successful race for that seat. During the 14


years that followed, she proved to be a tireless, thoughtful, compassionate, practical and gifted member


of the U.S. House of Representatives, where her voice and her votes consistently came from her great


heart and from her affection for our people.  As the first woman from Nevada to serve in Congress, she


set a high standard as she pioneered the trail for those who have followed.


Barbara distinguished herself as an effective advocate for President Reagan’s successful reform policies


in the Congress, and my eldest daughter, Suzanne, who served as a member of her staff for a time,


attests to Barbara’s faithful and determined insistence on providing quality services to her constituents.


Notably, while maintaining all these responsibilities, Barbara always kept her great family as her first




Finally, from a personal standpoint, I will forever be indebted to Barbara for bringing a wonderful


campaign manager – Polly Minor -  to Nevada to run her winning 1990 re-election campaign, for  the


following year she became Polly Minor List, my wife the mother of two of my children.


Barbara was a true gift, in countless ways, to her beloved Nevada and to each of us.  May God bless her






Rep. Steven Horsford:


“I am incredibly saddened by the news of Barbara Vucanovich's passing today. She was a trailblazer who broke the congressional glass ceiling in Nevada. As the first woman in Congress from Nevada, and the first Nevadan in House leadership, she set an example for every public servant from Nevada following in her footsteps.


"She was tough: a breast cancer survivor who lived nearly 30 years after her diagnosis who also never missed a vote during her recovery from surgery. She was fair-minded, conservative and consistent, and she will be missed.


"My thoughts and prayers are with Barbara's family and friends."