Friends and loved ones of longtime state official Bob Walsh say they are having a tough time dealing with his unexpected death last week.
Walsh died of a stroke while undergoing heart surgery, and it caught everyone he knew by surprise.
Before he became a spokesman for state officials, Walsh worked at KLAS-TV.
News viewers saw many versions of Bob Walsh over the years, different jobs, different hair cuts, but long before he was a government spokesperson, he was a professional smart aleck and newsman.
Walsh was known for his sharp writing and acerbic wit, qualities that led to his hiring by news director Bob Stoldal in the early 80s. He was paired up with another youngster as a co-anchor on the noon news. Walsh was the weathercaster at noon then a reporter in the evenings. He recalled in a 2011 interview that the noon show co-hosts sometimes got carried away.
"You know, we gained kind of a cult following which is the nice way of saying they yanked us off the air after a year," Wash said. "One day someone from the newsroom came in in the middle of the broadcast and said 'we just got a call in the newsroom.' Someone said 'were on the 6th floor of the Tropicana with a bomb and they're going to detonate it if we don't take you two off the air immediately.'"
It was at channel 8 where he met his future wife Ty. Walsh left KLAS in 1987 to work with another channel 8 alumnus and close friend Sue Lowden at the Sahara Hotel. Five years later, his talent for public relations caught the eye of Nevada Governor Bob Miller, who hired Walsh as a speechwriter.
"It was my decision. Bob was well respected in the community and anybody that knew him knew how competent he was, how caring he was, how hard working he was, and how congenial he was. He made everybody feel at ease, me and everybody else," said former Governor Bob Miller.
Walsh became a confidante and sounding board for the governor, performed a similar role for Lt,. Governor Lorraine Hunt, and years later, was promoted to chief deputy under Miller's son Ross during his eight years as Nevada's secretary of state.
The news of Walsh's sudden death hit the Miller's hard.
"Bob was like extended family," Miller said. "My older daughter called from New York and was in tears and my wife and I are choked up and so is our son Ross. It's a loss for his family. It's a loss for us, but it's really a loss for the people of Nevada that never knew what a great person he was."
After he retired from the state, Walsh worked as a substitute teacher. He was a musical encyclopedia, remembered by Bob Stoldal as a fan of John Coltrane and Lord Buckley. The only hint that he had health problems came in an email sent the night before his surgery in which he jokingly commented he was quote "about to call it a night...."
Bob Walsh was the father of two daughetrs and just 12 days before his death got to meet his first grandchild. The Walsh family plans to hold a remembrance sometime after the holidays.
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