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Hood remembered for giving respect to all, no matter how big or small

Jeanne Hood, the trailblazing casino executive who died Sunday, leaves behind admirers from the blackjack pit to the boardroom.

Hood was among the first women to head a Las Vegas casino company.

Longtime casino industry attorney and former Gaming Commission member Jeffrey Silver recalls, “Jeanne was a great boss and loved by her employees. She was highly regarded for her talents as a CEO by the regulators in Nevada and New Jersey, and by those who she dealt with on Wall Street. She ran Elsinore, a public company, and … the Four Queens downtown. She was very active in community and charitable affairs and served as chairman of the board of the Greater Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. She always treated everyone as if they were special to her.”

Former employee Mike Lewis observed, “It was a pleasure to work at the Four Queens under the leadership of Jeanne Hood during the ’70s and ’80s. She treated everyone with respect. Respect she received in return.”

Hood took over the Four Queens in 1977 amid difficult economic times and tough labor disputes. She joined Elsinore Corp. as president in 1985. She started managing hotels in 1958.

Some of Hood’s fondest memories were living for six years in Hollywood’s famous Garden of Allah apartments with her husband, Dave Hood, who managed the place famous for its movie star residents.

“There is nothing I would have wanted to change,” she told reporter Dee Coakley in 1978. “I had a wonderful life with my husband and my children. I’ve had a lot of lucky things happen — being in the right place at the right time. I consider myself a very fortunate woman. And I look forward rather than back.

“I love my life.”

‘COMMERCIAL’ DEVELOPMENT: The Nevada Development Authority is once again attempting to lure recession-strapped California businesses to Nevada, this time with edgy commercials set to air in the Golden State with a “Kiss Your Assets Goodbye” theme. Los Angeles station KABC has refused to air the ads, Mayor Oscar Goodman said Thursday in his weekly news conference.

MOB PANEL: Mob informant Frank Cullotta and former organized crime fighters Dennis Arnoldy and Kent Clifford will highlight a panel on the history of the mob in Las Vegas at 6 p.m. today at the Clark County Government Center Commission Chambers. Un-retired TV news executive Bob Stoldal will moderate, and KLAS-TV, Channel 8, reporter George Knapp and I will be on hand to interrupt the discussion.

It’s just a coincidence the mob discussion is set to take place in the commission chambers.

PURPLE HEARTS: Art Cozad and his fellow members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart were given a mayoral proclamation Thursday.

Today is recognized as Purple Heart Day.

CLOSING TIME: Saturday night’s scheduled closure of the popular La Madonna restaurant following a lease dispute is sure to bring a tear to the eye of R-J food critic Heidi Knapp Rinella, who ranked it among her favorites of 2008.

In addition to executive chef Robert Solano’s remarkable menu, La Madonna was the home of the award-winning Alien Tequila and the formidable guitar talents of Jozev Castano.

TEARS & JEERS: The federal wire fraud conviction of former USA Capital owner Joe Milanowski this week generated cries and sighs from former bilked investors.

They aren’t likely to see a nickel of their money — USA closed its doors owing investors $962 million — but some will find solace in the fact Milanowski faces a minimum of a dozen years in federal prison.

And, I’m told reliably, the investigation continues.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Goodman went to great lengths Thursday morning to downplay any trouble at the diminutive Las Vegas Zoo, which has been the subject of a recent series of news reports on KTNV-TV, Channel 13. … Goodman’s 70th birthday party last week netted more than $21,000 for three charities. It’s only a rumor he consumed $22,000 in gin.

BOULEVARD II: The late Dr. Elias Ghanem’s loyal friends are bristling at any comparison between the popular physician and the embattled Dr. Conrad Murray. Ghanem treated a drug-addled Elvis Presley, and Murray is under investigation after the recent death of pop star Michael Jackson. But Ghanem also was a member of the Nevada Athletic Commission and a political power player who was never officially accused of abusing his medical relationship with Elvis.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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