Marjorie Barrick, the Las Vegas philanthropist who founded the Barrick Lecture Series at UNLV, died Sunday. She was 89.
Her cause of death was unavailable late Monday.
Barrick’s endowment of more than $1 million to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1980 helped bring to the university such renowned speakers as Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, Ken Burns and, most recently, former South African President F.W. de Klerk in April. The free lectures continue to be open to the public.
“She was a monumental figure, really, in UNLV’s history in sponsoring these lectures,” said former university President Carol Harter. “She will be extraordinarily missed.”
The endowment created and continues to support two fellowships a faculty development fund and a research fund at UNLV.
Her philanthropic efforts earned her numerous awards, including the “Woman of the Year” award from Nevada Dance Theater in 1988 and the 1987 Governor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.
UNLV renamed its natural history museum the Marjorie Barrick Museum in 1989 and gave her an honorary doctorate in humane letters in 1985.
“I feel life is not really worth living if I can’t do something for someone else,” she told the Las Vegas Sun in 1989.
Barrick earned a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University in 1940.
When she moved to Las Vegas in the early 1950s from Omaha, Neb., with her husband, Las Vegas real estate developer Edward Barrick, she continued to take classes at the university in various subjects.
“I love to be around young people, to listen to them in class and hear their views,” she said in a UNLV press release in 1980. “It keeps you young to be around them. You feel that you are in the mainstream of life, rather than sitting on the sideline.”
Edward Barrick, who at various times was part owner of the Flamingo, Horseshoe, Pioneer and Fremont casinos, died in 1979.
The Barrick Lecture Series, named after Edward Barrick, put UNLV on the map by attracting some of the top names and thinkers of the day, Harter said.
But Harter said it was sometimes difficult to find people to speak at the series whom Barrick would find interesting.
“She was iconoclastic. She was neither Republican nor Democrat, neither liberal nor conservative. She would read writers from every end of the spectrum. She was enormously well-read,” Harter said.
“There are very few people, I think, who are as well known in our community,” she continued. “It’s a very special role that she played (at UNLV), and a very important one.”
A date for Barrick’s funeral was not available. UNLV is planning a memorial service for a future date.
Barrick has one stepdaughter, Sally Sweeney, according to UNLV.