|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
|Sawyer in 1962|
|21st Governor of Nevada|
January 5, 1959 – January 2, 1967
|Preceded by||Charles H. Russell|
|Succeeded by||Paul Laxalt|
December 14, 1918|
Twin Falls, Idaho, U.S.
|Died||February 19, 1996
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Resting place||Palm Valley View Memorial Park
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Bette Norene Hoge|
Sawyer was born on December 14, 1918, in Twin Falls, Idaho. He was the son of two osteopaths, Harry William and Bula Belle Cameron Sawyer (and the youngest of three boys). Sawyer served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war he married Bette Norene Hoge on August 1, 1946.
Grant Sawyer attended Linfield College for two years and later enrolled at the University of Nevada at Reno, where he graduated in 1941. While a student at Nevada, Sawyer was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. Sawyer then went to The George Washington University Law School but left to enlist in the army at the beginning of World War II. After his military service he enrolled at Georgetown University, where he received a law degree in 1946.
He was responsible for the development of the modern casino regulatory system with the passage of the Gaming Control Act of 1959 and the formation of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Sawyer swam against the tide of history when he unsuccessfully fought to prevent corporate ownership over Nevada casinos.
Sawyer was the first western governor to endorse the fledgling presidential campaign of Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Commentators have reflected on Sawyer's career as follows: Grant Sawyer served two turbulent terms as Nevada's governor from 1959 to 1967. Sawyer was an advocate of progressive change. By the late fifties he had come so far from his start in the conservative political machine of Senator Patrick McCarran that many powerful Nevadans considered his policies on education, the environment, and civil rights to be dangerously radical. When he demanded meaningful regulatory control over casino gaming and took decisive action to purge the industry of its mob connections, the establishment's resistance stiffened. Eventually, Sawyer's positions brought him into open conflict with special interests and led to a collision with the justice department of the federal government, but he never backed down.
In 1967 Sawyer co-founded Lionel Sawyer & Collins, as of 2011 the largest private law firm in Nevada.
Sawyer died on February 19, 1996, in Las Vegas from complications of a debilitating stroke suffered in 1993. His wife Bette died September 11, 2002. Both are buried at Palm Valley View Memorial Park in Las Vegas.
The following buildings are named for the former governor: The Grant Sawyer Building, a state office building, located at 555 East Washington Avenue, Las Vegas; Grant Sawyer Middle School, located at 5450 Redwood Street, Las Vegas.
In the pilot episode of the television series Vegas, set in 1960, reference is made to the murder of "the governor's niece" named "Samantha Meade." Sawyer's name, however, is not specifically mentioned.
- "Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer". National Governors Association. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
- Sawyer, Grant (1993). Hang tough! Grant Sawyer, an activist in the governor's mansion. Reno: University of Nevada Oral History Program. p. 256. ISBN 1-56475-366-2.
- Artemesia Yearbook. Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada. 1941. p. 77.
- Myles, Myrtle Tate (1972). Nevada's governors: From territorial days to the present, 1861-1971. Western Printing & Publishing Co. p. 310.
- Rocha, Guy. "Myth #105 - The Mississippi of the West". Nevada State Library and Archives. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- "About the firm". Lionel Sawyer & Collins. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- "Former governor Grant Sawyer, 77, dies". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
Charles H. Russell
|Governor of Nevada