Despite the overwhelmingly male key players running Las Vegas over the decades, the city’s reputation as a boy’s town isn’t entirely true. The list of influential women, sometimes absent in popular lore, is lengthy.
So when the Neon Museum announced it would be highlighting Las Vegas’ “most interesting and influential women” in March (National Women’s History Month), we weren’t surprised to see nods go to early pioneer Helen Stewart, the city’s first postmaster; sign designer Betty Willis, who was responsible for the Moulin Rouge and Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas signs; and club owner Mayme Stocker, who obtained the city’s first legal gaming license.
At the risk of doubling up, we thought we’d throw in a few shout-outs of our own.
Anna Roberts Parks According to Clark County’s Patrick Gaffey, Parks blew into town in 1911 and opened a store with her boyfriend, with whom she started a limestone mining operation in Sloan, raising $64,000 in capital on her own. A licensed mortician, she also opened a funeral parlor, calling it Palm Mortuary. Her collection of furniture and objects helped establish the Clark County Museum.
Myram Borders She ran United Press International’s Las Vegas bureau from 1965 to 1990, shrewdly outsmarting other reporters with dogged tactics to get the scoops. But for all her outwitting, it was chance that had her passing by Marie Callender’s when the bomb went off under Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s car seat and arriving first on the scene.
Sarann Knight Preddy Preddy, the first black woman in Nevada to hold a state gaming license, opened the Tonga Club in Hawthorne, served as an executive board member of the NAACP and advocated integration of the casinos. She was co-owner of the Moulin Rouge when it was added to the Nevada Registry of Historic Places.