A Republican governor and two-term senator from Nevada, Paul D. Laxalt ’44 was one of Ronald Reagan’s most influential advisors—dubbed the president’s “First Friend.” Born in Reno, Nevada, on Aug. 2, 1922, he helped care for his five siblings while their father herded sheep in the Nevada mountains; he often called himself a “Basque sheepherder’s kid.” Paul served as an Army medic in the Pacific during World War II and earned a law degree from the University of Denver in 1949. Returning to Carson City, Nevada, he married Jackalyn Ross and went into practice with her father. He served as Ormsby County, Nevada, district attorney in the early 1950s and won the Nevada governorship in 1966, the same year that Reagan was elected governor of California. After he and his first wife divorced in 1972, he married Carol Wilson, his former secretary, in 1976. In 1974, he was the only Republican to win a Senate seat previously held by a Democrat. Paul was an early and enthusiastic cheerleader for a potential Reagan presidency. He went on to chair Reagan’s victorious White House campaigns in 1980 and 1984 and became a key channel between the White House and Congress. His most dramatic moment involved the Reagan administration’s efforts to persuade the autocratic Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos to make democratic reforms or step aside. In 1990, Paul founded a lobbying firm, with clients ranging from Sirius XM to the American Gaming Association. He died on Aug. 6, 2018, at a hospital in Reston, Virginia. He was 96 years old. Besides his wife, Carol, survivors include six children from his first marriage; a stepdaughter; and 12 grandchildren.

08 Nov 2018