Longtime Nevada labor leader Claude "Blackie" Evans died Friday of apparent heart failure at his home in Henderson.
He was 72.
"He was truly an icon of Nevada's labor movement. He did more for the working guy than anyone I know," said Danny Thompson, who succeeded Evans in 1999 as head of the state AFL-CIO.
Thompson said Evans had been in poor health although he was able
to attend the union's annual convention last month in Reno.
He said Evans was hospitalized on Wednesday but returned home on Thursday.
Evans, a Joplin, Mo., native, started as a laborer at Titanium Metal Corp. in Henderson in the early 1950s.
The former Golden Gloves boxer became active in union affairs and developed a reputation as a tough labor representative.
In 1963, he was elected president of the Steelworkers Union Local 4856; and in 1971 he was appointed by then-Gov. Mike O'Callaghan as state labor commissioner.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who was the state's lieutenant governor at the time, said Evans "was exemplary in taking care of Nevada workers" while serving as labor commissioner.
Evans became head of the state AFL-CIO in 1978.
The organization represents more than 150 local unions and more than 120,000 members.
As head of the state AFL-CIO, Evans also oversaw statewide political action efforts and lobbied for labor-related laws at the state Legislature.
He also sought out candidates for the Legislature - among them Thompson, who served in the state Assembly.