RENO, NV - Former State Senator Bill Raggio was honored at a mass at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Reno Monday as a dedicated friend and public servant.
The longest serving senator in state history died a week ago while on a trip to Australia. He was 85.
It was the kind of event, said one close friend and political ally, that Bill Raggio would have loved.
In the crowd of perhaps 2,000, were many with whom he had served, from both parties and both ends of the state.
There were those whose interests he had championed, including representatives from the education community, sitting next to lifelong friends.
All people whose lives he had touched sharing stories of the man, personal and public, often lightening the moment with a memory of Raggio humor.
Raggio was remembered as one of an increasingly rare breed, a statesman who could and did reach across party lines finding common ground on issues important to the state.
"He could forge a consensus," said former Democratic Governor and U.S. Senator Richard Bryan. "He understood that compromise was necessary. Not everyone appreciates that these days."?
His middle name, said Monsignor Leo McFadden, could have been "Nevada." It wasn't, of course, but Raggio left his mark on the history of the state, not only on the bricks and mortar of buildings that bear his name, but in the policies that helped shape the state for a half century and by the example he left for others to follow.
"He was one of the greatest men we will ever know," said Governor Brian Sandoval. "He was the best that we can do."
"Nevada has lost a great man, a great friend, a man of high ideals," said lifelong friend Ray Avansino, Jr.," but Nevada has gained a great symbol of integrity, wit and wisdom that we can only hope to emulate."