LOCAL OBITUARIES

PASSINGS: Kenny Guinn, Walter William Ralphs Jr.

Kenny Guinn

Former 2-term GOP governor of Nevada

Kenny Guinn, 73, a former governor of Nevada, died Thursday after falling from the roof of his Las Vegas home while making repairs, police said.

Guinn, a moderate Republican, was elected governor in 1998 and reelected in 2002, serving until 2007.

Former Gov. Bob Miller, a Democrat who preceded Guinn in office, described him as "a person who devoted his entire life to making Nevada a better place. He put the interests of the state over partisanship in everything he did."

Guinn was born in Garland, Ark., on Aug. 24, 1936, and moved with his family of migrant farm workers to Exeter, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley.

He played football and basketball at what is now Fresno State, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education. He went on to earn a doctorate in education at Utah State University.

He moved to Las Vegas to become a teacher and served as Clark County superintendent of schools from 1969 to 1978, during a time when schools were forced by courts to desegregate.

Guinn retired to enter the financial industry. He became president, chairman and chief executive of Nevada Savings and Loan Assn. in 1987 and was later named president and chief executive of Southwest Gas Corp.

He also served as chairman of the Nevada Development Authority, a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank in San Francisco and interim president of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Walter Williams Ralphs Jr.

Former exec in family's grocery store chain

Walter William Ralphs Jr., 94, a former executive in his family's Los Angeles-based grocery store chain who went on to establish a sprawling Northern California cattle ranch recognized for its humane and sustainable business practices, died of melanoma July 6 at his home in Beverly Hills, said his stepdaughter Robin Joy Berenson.

Ralphs was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 1916, and attended Stanford University. He joined the family business, which had been launched as Ralphs Bros. Grocers in downtown Los Angeles in 1874. The family sold the company to Federated Department Stores in 1968 for $60 million, and it has changed hands several times since then.

In 1964, he took over Prather Ranch in Macdoel in Siskiyou County. The ranch, co-owned by Jim and Mary Richert, was honored in 2005 with the Environmental Stewardship Award Program administered by the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. The cattle and hay ranch, with 4,000 head grazing on more than 40,000 acres, was recognized for stewardship practices that are inventive, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. It is noted for the organic beef it produces.

Ralphs was a passionate tennis player who continued to play competitively into his 90s and was nationally ranked in his age group.

— Times staff and wire reports

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