Wayne Johnson helped lay groundwork for today’s Henderson, Nev.

Wayne Johnson recalls his brother as a jokester and motorcycle rider, but he didn’t fully realize how much of an impact Gary Johnson had until after his death.

Gary Johnson, a longtime Henderson resident, was the executive director of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce for 24 years. He died Jan. 22 at 74.

“His tireless efforts helped lay the groundwork for our successes to this day,” said Scott Muelrath, president and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

Gary Johnson was born in 1942 and grew up in San Francisco. Wayne said Gary clashed with their parents, so he moved to Henderson in 1959 to live with his grandmother.

“Our grandmother wasn’t very controlling and let people stumble to make their own way through life,” Wayne said. “I think this helped him get grounded.”

Gary graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1963.

“That’s when he started establishing roots,” Wayne said.

Gary, young and idealistic, joined the Henderson Chamber of Commerce in his 20s.

Muelrath, who met Gary about six years ago, said the former president is credited with creating programs such as the Henderson Development Association.

“He saw a void in our community and helped to fill it,” he said. “He was the type of person who got things done.”

Developing that association led to Henderson becoming home to some bigger companies, such as Ocean Spray and Levi Strauss & Co.

Gary also sat on a committee and contributed to the development of the master-planned community that became Green Valley.

Gary remained active in the community despite retiring in 1995, participating in groups such SCORE, which offers advice to entrepreneurs, and serving as a business counselor with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the president of the Henderson Association of Senior Housing.

“He was always at our new-member briefings (for new businesses),” Muelrath added.

Gary was a private person, which is why his brother didn’t know about many of his accomplishments.

“He never really liked to brag about what was happening at work,” Wayne said.

Instead, the brothers bonded over motorcycles, taking trips through the years. Gary was a member of the motorcycle club Vegas Wings, the American Motorcycle Association and Vegas Valley Trikers.

Gary also was private when it came to his health.

“He came to visit last summer and we noticed he had lost weight,” Wayne said. “We noticed he was hunched over a lot.”

For the first time in years, Gary didn’t make it to Montana to spend Thanksgiving Day with his family.

“We Skyped with him and noticed his face was sunken in from all the weight he lost,” Wayne added.

A few weeks later, Wayne and his wife made it down to Henderson. Gary finally went to the doctor and learned he had pancreatic cancer.

Before Gary died, he requested, in lieu of a memorial service, that people contribute to the Henderson Historical Society at hendersonhistoricalsociety.org/joingive.

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like