Reno Renaissance Man Passes
Probably the most upwardly mobile individual in the history of The Biggest Little City passed away when Don Carano left this mortal coil recently. Many people who knew him well thought it was portentous that his birth occurred the same year that gaming was legalized in the State of Nevada. Of his many careers, his role as a gaming magnate was easily the most significant.
Usually, when you approach the funeral site for a prominent person, you can assess the impact he or she had on the community by the number of cars in the parking lot. In Don Carano’s case, Rose de Lima’s many parking lots and surface streets were crammed to the max.
The service saw a standing-room only crowd and Don was well-eulogized by his son, several grandchildren and professional associates. Following the service, an equally large crowd attended the Celebration of Life at the Silver Legacy.
As for me, I first became aware of Don when I would see him on numerous occasions at the premier health club of Reno in the 1960s— the YMCA on Foster Drive.
The most memorable time I can recall interfacing with Don was at Lake Tahoe on a day when the lake was churning with heavy waves. My friend Charlie Welsh and I were guiding our boat to the safety of Zephyr Cove when we spotted a man and a couple of boys trying to keep their craft from swamping. Charlie immediately recognized the fellow as Reno High classmate, Don Carano. After securing our boat, we jumped into the water, helped him bail out his boat and dragged it to the shore.
Over the years, when I met Don on subsequent occasions, he was always a softspoken, affable and courteous individual. The last time I saw him alive he was hosting a luncheon in the Brew Brothers Café for a number of his cronies, which included the late Mert Baxter.
Don was famous for stating that he believed in real estate rather than the stock market, which called to mind a missive that was sent by barrister Tom Cashill to a friend in Reno while Cashill was in Europe. It went, “Rome’s just like Reno—the Italians own all the real estate.”
The Skywalks at the Carano properties were a very salubrious gift to the late Don Burke, who was the Director of Sales for the RSCVA. It occurred when the south end of Virginia Street became a little seedy and dangerous. When Burke was entertaining convention clients, he would take them through Harrah’s Club via the Center Street entrance thence the halfblock walk to the El Dorado and on through the Skyways between the properties, thus avoiding the dark and threatening surface streets.
From the time he cobbled together the real estate on the west side of North Virginia Street to build his flagship El Dorado Hotel to the present coast-to-coast empire of nineteen properties, he was an exceptional visionary.