Richard H. Bryan, Law Partner, Former U.S. Senator and Governor
The young boy’s dream began during the completion of grade school: to one day make it into politics and to make a noticeable difference in the lives of the people he served. This ambitious dream has come true several times over for extraordinary leader Richard H. Bryan, former two-term governor (D), of Nevada, from 1982 to 1988, and as a former two-term United States senator, (D) of Nevada, from 1988 to 2001.
“My father came to Las Vegas as a senior in high school in 1926,” proudly states Bryan of his roots. “He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, and relocated to Washington, D. C., where I was born in 1937. As a family, we moved back to Las Vegas in 1942. It was a small community back then, with only about 10,000 population.
“A lot of people might find this hard to believe, but it was like a Norman Rockwell painting. In 1942, we moved into our Huntridge home. We had a victory garden, I joined the Cub Scouts and the ritual was the Saturday matinee. It was a very happy time.”
Bryan graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1955. It was the only high school in town, and later graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno.
“My father was a lawyer and was also in politics. By the time I left eighth grade, I knew I wanted to be in politics too.” Legend has it, in 1958, Bryan received a little boost in his political strategy from his buddies at UNR. In his run for student body president, they suggested he date a sorority girl named Bonnie. He did, and it was the edge he needed. He won the election, and most importantly, he won the hand of his future wife, Miss Bonnie Franklin, now Mrs. Bonnie Bryan, loving wife of over 40 years.
In 1964, Bryan began building his unprecedented and widely-successful legal career in Nevada as a deputy district attorney in Clark County. Within two years he was named the first public defender of Clark County. In 1968, he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly and re-elected in 1970. In 1972, he was elected to the state senate and was re-elected in 1976. In the late 1970s, he was elected as Nevada’s attorney general.
In 1982, he reached his lifelong childhood dream of becoming the governor of Nevada and was re-elected in 1988. Bryan was then elected U. S. senator from 1988 until retiring from politics in 2001.
Upon his retirement from politics, which lasted only a brief time, Bryan joined Nevada’s largest law firm, Lionel Sawyer and Collins as partner. The law firm specializes in federal, state and local governmental relations, gaming, mining and public land use issues. Over the years, Bryan has represented many Las Vegas icons such as Siegfried & Roy, and Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands and owner of the Venetian.
“When I was governor, the population of Nevada was only 800,000, moving toward 900,000, and it didn’t reach a million until the mid-1980s,” says Bryan. “I most enjoyed the interaction with the people, the events, and the parades in the small towns. Of course, Nevada has grown tremendously since then. Las Vegas is my home. I have so many friends here. So many things are happening here. It is such a dynamic time to be living here.”
Bob Faiss, a senior partner with Lionel Sawyer and Collins, summed it up very well in his description of one of Nevada’s living legends: “Richard Bryan has dedicated his life to serving the people of Nevada. We are honored that he will continue to fight for the rights and interests of all Nevadans.
* reprinted with permission from Las Vegas Dreams and Jim Bickford