Nevada leaders remember Adelson as business trailblazer, philanthropist

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Patrick Semansky / AP

Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson sits onstage before President Donald Trump speaks at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

Published Tue, Jan 12, 2021 (8:25 a.m.)

Updated Tue, Jan 12, 2021 (1:36 p.m.)

Nevada leaders reacted today to the death of Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, remembering him as a businessman who championed ideas that shaped Nevada and a philanthropist.

President Donald Trump also issued a statement, noting Adelson's business acumen, generosity and support of Israel.

Adelson, founder, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, died at age 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, his company announced today.

Adelson, who owned the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, was also a major Republican donor and backer of President Donald Trump.

In 2015, he secretly bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Here’s what people were saying today about the news of his death:

• President Donald Trump said Adelson “lived the true American dream. His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity his great name.”

“Sheldon was also a staunch supporter of our great ally the State of Israel. He tirelessly advocated for the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors.

“Sheldon was true to his family, his country, and all those that knew him. The world has lost a great man. He will be missed,” Trump said.

• Vice President Mike Pence released a statement saying Adelson was “a philanthropist whose generosity knew no bounds and helped shape countless worthy causes and a businessman who changed an immeasurable number of lives.”

“Sheldon Adelson was a leader and a great man whose legacy will inspire generations for years to come, and he will be deeply missed by family, friends and all of us who had the privilege to know this truly extraordinary American," Pence said.

• Gov. Steve Sisolak said Adelson “believed in succeeded in, and invested in bold and daring ideas that changed the State of Nevada.”

He envisioned Las Vegas as a premier business destination and led the charge to bring the NFL to Las Vegas, Sisolak said.

The Adleson family has also funded charitable endeavors from programs to help the hungry, support education and develop addiction clinics, Sisolak said.

• U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada said efforts by Adelson and his wife, Miriam, to combat substance abuse have changed countless lives.

“As Jewish leaders, we also shared a deep concern for the rise in anti-Semitism and joined efforts to help combat hate,” Rosen said.

• U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said Adelson’s vision “helped transform Las Vegas from a small desert city into a world-class tourism destination. The Silver State’s massive business, entertainment and convention industries are what they are today because of his life’s work and his dedication to building a Las Vegas that can cater to everyone from entrepreneurs to international travelers.”

• U.S. Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada said Adelson was "a gaming giant who helped shape modern Las Vegas and employed thousands of Las Vegas families for decades."

"Most of all, I appreciate his and his family’s invaluable investments in our community, from opening clinics to help those struggling with opioid abuse, to founding the Adelson Educational Campus, a vibrant school that’s now a cornerstone of the Las Vegas Jewish community," Lee said.

• U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of of Nevada said Adelson “helped make Las Vegas a top international travel destination” and played a key role in “making our city a premiere sports town.”

“I hope the Adelson family will carry on his philanthropic legacy and I am thinking of them in their time of grief,” Titus said.

• Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said few people have had as much impact on the resort industry and the state’s economy as Adelson.

“He came to Las Vegas as a master of the convention business” and “was instrumental in transforming Las Vegas into the iconic destination it is today.”

“He also left an indelible impact on Asia, where he brought Las Vegas-style resorts to people in the Far East, helping to build the thriving international gaming market that exists today,” Reid said.

“His advocacy for the state of Israel and Jewish causes was without equal and made a difference in countless lives both at home and abroad,” Reid said.

• State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said Adelson “built one of the world’s most recognizable gaming brands, and his impact has been felt across Las Vegas and around the world.”

“It was heartening to many Nevada families that when the COVID crisis closed our resorts and casinos, he continued payroll and benefits for thousands of employees in the face of difficult economic circumstances,” she said.

• Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick expressed thanks for Adelson’s many contributions to the community.

“He was committed to our veterans and Nellis (Air Force Base) families across the valley and to fighting opioid addiction, assisted his team members with building numerous community gardens and has long been a pillar of Nevada’s Jewish community,” Kirkpatrick said.

• Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Adelson “took Las Vegas to a new level of limitless tourism and convention success” by bringing the COMDEX computer trade show to the Strip.

“Little known but of enormous impact in our city was his enormous philanthropy and generosity. Mr. Adelson was a caring and religious man who quietly made lives much stronger and meaningful,” Goodman said.

• Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said Adelson was “a pioneer in the casino and convention industry, a skilled businessman and a philanthropist who funded a school, medical research and countless other causes.”

“Mr. Adelson was a man who worked hard to further religious causes. His work within and for the Jewish community is world renowned and will be a legacy for generations,” he said.

After the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in Minnesota, Adelson invited Ford to discuss race issues with his employees to foster unity, the attorney general said.

• Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said Adelson was “an industry icon, dedicated philanthropist and extraordinary entrepreneur who shaped Las Vegas into the No. 1 tradeshow and convention destination it is today.”

He will be remembered “as one of our industry’s great minds,” she said.

Valentine also noted Adelson’s innumerable charitable contributions. “Many nonprofit organizations around the world have lost a true friend and champion,” she said.

• Friends of the Israel Defense Forces leaders, including Las Vegas chapter founders Dana and Michael Werner, said Adelson’s “generous and unending support for the soldiers of Israel, and his commitment to the strength of the Jewish State and its people, have touched the lives of people all around the world and will live on in our hearts forever.”

“The passing of Sheldon Adelson is a tremendous loss, to us personally, and to the entire Jewish nation. Baruch Dayan HaEmet,” the group said in a statement.

• Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the CES gadget show, said Adelson was an “exceptional businessman and a passionate patriot – a U.S. immigrant with a remarkable success story.”

Adelson created and grew the largest trade show of its era, COMDEX, a computer expo held in Las Vegas from 1979 until 2003, after which it gave way to CES.

“We were friends and rivals. We were business partners and competitors. Throughout it all, I admired Sheldon’s brilliant vision and ability to get the best deal possible for his company. His businesses did everything they could to help trade shows thrive,” Shapiro said.

• UNLV issued a statement saying “the hospitality industry has lost a giant. UNLV extends its deepest sympathies to the Sheldon Adelson family. We will never forget Mr. Adelson's many contributions to the community and the university. We are grateful for his generosity and his support over the years.”

• Vegas Chamber President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald said that “no one shaped modern-day Las Vegas more than Sheldon Adelson.”

“From transforming the convention industry and creating two of Las Vegas' most iconic resorts, to becoming an international leader in sustainability practices and supporter of the men and women who have served our country in the military, he leaves a legacy that few, if any, will ever match,” Sewald said.

• MGM Resorts International President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said Adelson’s “vision and innovations defined what was possible and helped make Las Vegas, Macau and other cities the iconic destinations they are today.”

“The trade show industry and the modern luxury resort all bear Sheldon’s fingerprints and cement his legacy as among the greatest entrepreneurs in the history of our industry,” Hornbuckle said.

“A philanthropic giant, his deep generosity and innumerable contributions had a tremendous impact in Las Vegas and around the world,” he said.

• Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos, said Adelson “was and will always be a legend in the gaming industry."

"Not only did he build incredible resorts for the enjoyment of his guests, he unequivocally set the bar when it came to taking care of his team members," the Fertittas said. "He recognized that a property is only as good as its team.”

“He will also be remembered for his many great philanthropic efforts here in Las Vegas, throughout the county and around the world,” they said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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