Nevada Ex-Sen. Alan H. Bible; Political Force for 40 Years

From Staff and Wire Reports

Former Nevada Sen. Alan H. Bible, a major force in Nevada politics for more than 40 years and a man consumer advocate Ralph Nader once called one of the Senate’s most productive members, has died. He was 78.

“I got the greatest pleasure out of trying to help people,” Bible once said. “There can be no greater reward in life.”

Bible, a member of the Senate for 20 years, died Monday at a hospital in the Northern California community of Auburn of complications of respiratory illness.


A comparatively recent and lasting testament to his career came two years ago when Congress created the Great Basin National Park in east-central Nevada, a park Bible had fought for throughout his final years in the Senate.

‘Most Productive’

Nader, in a 1973 report on Congress, said of the Nevada Democrat’s efforts:

“Bible does not seek national headlines but he works diligently through time-honored Senate processes. He is one of the most productive senators.”

Bible cast the deciding vote in the Senate to override President Richard M. Nixon’s veto of the Clean Water Act.

He also introduced the first bill passed by Congress that gave 18-year-olds the right to vote.

Born in the rural northern Nevada community of Lovelock and graduated from the University of Nevada Reno in 1930, Bible received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1934.

A rumpled figure who spoke in rolling cadences, Bible was elected Storey County district attorney in 1935 and state attorney general in 1942. He retired from the Senate in 1974, returning to UNR where he taught political science for the next eight years.

Sons in Politics

One of Bible’s sons, William, is campaign manager for Gov. Richard Bryan, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Sen. Chic Hecht.

Another son, Paul, is a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Bryan ordered flags flown at half-staff Tuesday in Bible’s honor and called his longtime friend “one of Nevada’s most highly respected and effective representatives. Nevadans will remember him as a great leader who earned his place in the history book of our state.”

Bible, a protege of former Nevada Sen. Pat McCarren, literally knew the names of thousands of his constituents. Among them he was known for his efforts to secure Nevada’s share of Colorado River water and to build pumping stations to bring it into Las Vegas. Without the water, Las Vegas would never have experienced the growth it has realized.

Action on Water Recalled

“I remember we almost let it (the deadline for applying for water) lapse,” Bible said in a 1987 interview. “We didn’t think we would ever need any more water, Las Vegas was just so small.”

Bible was succeeded in the Senate in 1974 by Sen. Paul Laxalt, a Republican and confidant to President Reagan.

In addition to his two sons, he is survived by his wife, Loucile, a daughter, another son and seven grandchildren.