Councilman Warren Harhay died Tuesday night after a lengthy illness. He was 76.
Tributes poured in Wednesday morning recalling Harhay’s devotion to the city and dedication to his role guiding the city.
“Today is an extremely sad day for Boulder City, as we have learned of the passing of Councilman Warren Harhay, a dedicated, steadfast member of City Council. He was an honorable man who listened to his constituents and voted in the best interest of the community as a whole,” the city said in a statement. “Councilman Harhay showed an incredible commitment to his role. Mayor Kiernan McManus, City Council, City Manager Al Noyola and city employees express their sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Harhay family. His presence and his leadership will be greatly missed.”
Former Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt called Harhay’s death a “big loss” for the city.
“He was an extraordinary man, so brilliant and smart, and so passionate about serving the city,” she said. “Warren was a man of integrity, very witty and funny … he has such an interesting life story. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get to know him.”
She said he took his role as a councilman “very seriously,” approaching every issue objectively and thoroughly researching it.
“It was a blessing to work with him,” said former Mayor Rod Woodbury. “He proved that he was an independent thinker and voice, and I appreciated that about him.
“He was the right person at the right time to come along for council … he provided balance,” Woodbury added.
Jill Rowland-Lagan, CEO of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, described Harhay as “A genuine statesman with the will to do what was best for the whole and with a heart of a leader that made you want to follow. I am grateful to his worthy example.”
“Warren is an exciting person, very loving, very sensitive, very giving, funny. He was just made for me and I was made for him,” said his wife, Marcia. “Without him, part of me is empty. We were one for so many years.”
She said he was a dedicated father, teaching their sons Mitchell and Marshall how to be successful in business and doting on their severely mentally disabled son Matthew.
“We were encouraged not to keep him with us and not to raise him in our home. There was never any hesitation on Warren’s or my part that Matthew would be raised anywhere but in our home.”
Marcia Harhay said Warren liked to write and tributes to Matthew were often the topic of his works.
“We were much better people and a much better family because Matthew was a part of it,” she said.
Despite his illness, Harhay continued to serve the city, attending council meetings by teleconference for nearly six months.
Harhay suffered a closed compression fracture of lumbar vertebrae No. 1 at the end of March and was in and out of medical facilities until he was admitted to Desert Springs Hospital in May before being transferred to a specialty hospital in June.
Before his injury, Harhay was a staple at Starbucks on Saturday mornings where he hosted Coffee with a Councilman to meet with local residents and hear their concerns.
Marcia Harhay said her husband loved being a councilman and that his Saturday morning coffees were one of his favorite things to do.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Harhay graduated from Cleveland State University, Kent State University and Wilmington National University. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering
Early in his career, he worked as a broadcast engineer before teaching electronics and math at Normandy High in Parma, Ohio.
During the 1970s’ energy crisis, he founded Electric Vehicle Associates and later became the founder and CEO of EVA Chloride Electrobus/Electrovan, obtaining a patent for an electric automobile drive system.
In 1982, he became the CEO of Lektramotors of Las Vegas. Later that year, he moved to Boulder City where he founded Emerging Ventures and Arts, a business and computer systems consulting company. He also owned a company that provided cultured marble to builders of homes, apartments and hotels.
After selling the business, he founded a company that developed a way to retrieve data on personal computers. The company was later acquired by Western Acceptance Corp., where he became the director of management information systems.
In the late 1990s he joined with his sons Mitchell and Marshall to establish Southern Nevada’s largest independent internet provider. When that firm was sold, they founded another company to supply internet services.
He retired, but returned to work as a senior electronics engineer at Rocky Research in Boulder City, where his work resulted in additional patents for electronic control systems and innovative products for the U.S. military and heating and air-conditioning industry.
Harhay is a past president of Boulder City Sunrise Rotary and was a member of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, Romeos and American Radio Relay League.
Harhay is survived by his wife of 52 years, Marcia; sons Matthew, Marshall and Mitchell; grandchildren Annison, Andy, Lilly and Brad; sister Janice Green of Maryland; and brother Darrell Kolach of Ohio.
Marcia Harhay said she was overwhelmed with the outpouring from those who knew her husband, including former students he kept in touch with.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.