Lorna Kesterson, Henderson’s first and only female mayor, is the namesake of a Henderson school

Known for her service and political achievements, former Henderson mayor Lorna Kesterson’s name is also featured on a Henderson elementary school.

Kesterson was born Dec. 30, 1925. After graduating from Boulder City High School, she attended Utah State University and earned a degree in journalism.

In 1947, Kesterson was awarded a certificate of merit from President Harry S. Truman for saving the life of a California Boy Scout who was drowning in Lake Mead.

She married Robert Kesterson on Jan. 17, 1953, and they moved to Henderson.

Kesterson worked as a reporter for the Boulder City News and the Henderson Home News for 30 years. She also worked as the managing editor for the Henderson Home News.

Kesterson was 49 when she began her political career. She was first elected to the Henderson City Council in 1975.

During her term, she was recognized as the city’s woman of the year.

In 1985, Kesterson ran against incumbent Mayor Leroy Zike. She won, collecting 2,863 votes, 60.6 percent, according to the Henderson Home News.

According to the Henderson Home News, the voter turnout was larger than expected. Of 10,800 possible voters, 4,838 cast ballots.

She was the first, and so far the only, woman to become mayor of Henderson.

Kesterson was sworn into office June 18, 1985, and took office in July. She served until 1993.

According to the Henderson Home News, her platform was to have an open-door policy where she could be reached by the people.

During her time in office, current Mayor Andy Hafen served as Ward 2 city councilman, starting in 1987 .

“Lorna Kesterson was one of the finest ladies I’ve had the privilege of working with during my career in public service,” Hafen said in a statement after she died in January . “She was a Henderson icon and pioneer both in politics and in our community.”

The year Kesterson became mayor, she also was named Henderson’s Woman of Distinction.

Aside from her involvement in the city, Kesterson served on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board , Daughter of Utah Pioneers, the Henderson Development Association and Visitors Authority and the Nevada League of Cities.

In 1991, Kesterson was named the state’s public official of the year.

In 2000, Lorna J. Kesterson Elementary School, 231 Bailey Island Drive, was named for her.

Kesterson died Jan. 16 at 86. A service was held Jan. 21.

She was survived by her sons Don Kesterson and Roger Kesterson.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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