Bill Briare, 76; as mayor, promoted Las Vegas around the world

From the Associated Press

Bill Briare, a former three-term mayor of Las Vegas who traveled the world promoting the gambling destination, has died. He was 76.

Briare, a Democrat who led the city from 1975 to 1987, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Friday, family members said.

Mayor Oscar Goodman said in a prepared statement, "Of all the mayors, he was the most beloved. He always had a smile on his face, and he was a great people person who brought respect to the office of the mayor."

Briare had a reputation as a family man and often clashed with adult businesses.

"He always thought his greatest accomplishments were his family," said Jim Briare, one of his six children. "His political legacy was integrity, hard work and responsible governing."

Briare's public tenure came during the time when control of casinos shifted from organized crime figures to corporations.

Jim Briare said his father once told him how he solicited a campaign contribution from a corporate casino head. That casino owner finally agreed and began a weeks-long process to cut him a check. When Briare went to an old-school casino mogul and asked for a campaign contribution, that owner left the room and came back with a wad of cash so thick that it wouldn't fit into his pockets.

"That was the old Vegas contrasted with the new Vegas," Jim Briare said.

Bill Briare was born in Long Beach and moved to Las Vegas in 1955. He was a successful investor and businessman in insurance, real estate and a family cookie shop, his family said.

He was elected to the Nevada Legislature in 1960, serving two years before being elected to the Clark County Commission in 1962.

He left public office in 1968, only to return to run for mayor of Las Vegas in 1975.

He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994.

Briare's first wife, Jo, died in 1988. He remarried and in addition to his son Jim is survived by his wife, Susan; sons Bill, Don, Bob and Tim: a daughter, Linda; a stepdaughter, Lori Wolfe; a brother, Vincent Briare; 19 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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