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Cancer claims Lake Las Vegas developer Ron Boeddeker at age 71

Ron Boeddeker, developer of the Lake Las Vegas community that recently has been mired in bankruptcy, died Saturday morning in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Boeddeker, 71, died of cancer, surrounded by his family, according to Sally Dewhurst, spokeswoman for his development company.

As chairman and president of Transcontinental Corp., he was instrumental in the construction of the 3,600-acre resort community in Henderson with green landscaping, luxury homes, golf courses and a 340-acre man-made lake.

“He was a true Las Vegas visionary,” Dewhurst said.

Transcontinental Corp. and its subsidiary, Transcontinental Properties Inc., took over the project in 1989 after two previous developers ran out of money before building the lake.

Cary Krukowski, Boeddeker’s daughter, said he felt lucky he inherited the Lake Las Vegas project.

“He felt there was always an inherent beauty there,” Krukowski said. “He tried to offer a unique side of Henderson and Las Vegas. A place of beauty and relaxation. … He loved Lake Las Vegas so much. It was part of him.”

That notion was supported by what Boeddeker told the Review-Journal in 1996.

“People really look for things that are contradictions to nature when they go to resorts,” Boeddeker said. “They look for the lush and the heavy landscaping and yet they don’t want it to rain while they’re there. That’s why they’ll come here. They love it because it’s sunny and warm and beautiful. But it takes the landscaping to set it off as a true resort.”

But the resort’s beauty couldn’t save Lake Las Vegas from becoming one of the first casualties of the hard times that hit Southern Nevada.

The development entered bankruptcy in 2008 after Transcontinental Corp. defaulted on a $540 million loan with Credit Suisse.

Casino MonteLago closed last year, although some of the shops and restaurants in the village remain open. The Ritz-Carlton, a 349-room hotel that opened in 2003, closed this May. But Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, a 493-room hotel built in 1999 as the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas, remains open.

Two of the golf courses — The Falls and Reflection Bay — closed. And the South Shore Golf Club has become a public course to stay afloat.

Boeddeker was born June 23, 1938, in Santa Barbara. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of San Francisco.

Before starting Transcontinental, Boeddeker headed up the real estate subsidiary of Boise Cascade Corp. In the early 1970s, he helped liquidate the timber-products giant’s real estate portfolio after it decided to get out of the real estate business.

After selling most of the properties, Boeddeker formed his own company, Transcontinental, to buy the remaining assets, including Lake Arrowhead, a weekend getaway outside of Los Angeles; the Ocean Pines Resort in Ocean City, Md.; and 35,000 acres on the coast of the big island of Hawaii.

Transcontinental’s Hawaii property was located on an arid part of the island on a terrain of hard, black lava. After crushing lava and installing drip irrigation, Transcontinental Corp. transformed 4,000 acres into Waikoloa Village, a terrain of lush seaside golf courses and rainless rain forests with two hotels, more than 400 condominium units and a shopping center.

Boeddeker, who began his career as a civil engineer in Southern California, was said by employees to take particular enjoyment in the engineering aspects of his projects. He called the $4 billion Lake Las Vegas project his most difficult ever from an engineering standpoint.

It included an 18-story-high dam and two 7-foot-wide pipes, each 2 miles long, to pump water from Lake Mead into Lake Las Vegas and to divert urban runoff water from the nearby Las Vegas Wash under Lake Las Vegas on its way back to Lake Mead.

Boeddeker told the Review-Journal in 1996 he spent half his year in Henderson as Lake Las Vegas was being built.

Boeddeker is survived by his wife, Kitty; two daughters, Kathy and Cary, and two sons, Mark and Matt. He also is survived by nine grandsons and one granddaughter.

A funeral will be held June 30 in Santa Barbara.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at
aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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