CARSON CITY — Former Assemblyman Bernie Anderson died Friday in a Reno hospital where he had spent several weeks fighting pulmonary problems.
The 71-year-old Sparks Democrat served 20 years in the Assembly before retiring in 2010. For much of his career, he served as chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
A longtime Reed High School government teacher, he would often pepper his floor speeches with examples of courage shown by the Founding Fathers during the Revolutionary War. Many of his history lessons were meant to demonstrate points about bills before the Legislature.
When he opened Judiciary Committee meetings, Anderson would remind members that the meetings were going across the world over the Internet and then send personal greetings to “Judge Bunch in Battle Mountain.” Max Bunch, the justice of the peace in the north-central town, was known to listen to the meetings.
Anderson was a stickler for decorum and would get angry at audience members, including the press, if their cellphones went off during his hearings. Then on the last day he presided over the Judiciary Commission, Anderson’s own cellphone rang, resulting in loud laughter. He had played a trick on his committee.
After his retirement, Anderson returned to the Legislature each year on National Reading Day. He read Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” while wearing a large, floppy red-and-white hat.
During his retirement, Anderson often was seen attending Reno Aces baseball games.
“The memory of his time in the Legislature will not soon be forgotten and his undeniable spirit will remain,” said Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas.
“It was with a heavy heart that I learned of the death of my friend, mentor and colleague Bernie Anderson,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. “I will always fondly recall his leadership as chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, his passion for his constituents and his respect for those who testified before his committee.”
Sandoval served in the Assembly with Anderson during the 1995 and 1997 sessions.
Anderson is survived by his wife, Clyda, two daughters, Cairn Anderson Lindloff and Natha Clyde Anderson, and two grandsons.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal, or call 775-687-3901 or on Twitter at @edison vogel.