weather icon Partly Cloudy

Smith’s, Burk’s legacies live on

This week marked the passing of two people who played key roles in Boulder City’s history.

Laura Godbey Kelly Smith was one of the town’s original 31ers, those who came to help establish the city as Hoover Dam was being built. Her focus was clearly on the past and how the city’s legacy was shaped by those early pioneers.

She died Sept. 7.

When she was young, she and her family settled in Ragtown on the river. In a video recalling her childhood, she said their first shelter was built from blankets and eventually her father purchased a tent from a man whose wife had died from the heat.

She recalled her parents encouraging her to visit the dam when it was under construction so she could watch history in the making. They always knew how big a role the dam would play in the city’s future.

Her tales of those early days helped keep that link to the past strong and establish Boulder City as “the town that built Hoover Dam.”

Though she was too young then to actually help build the city’s foundation, she played an integral role in making sure the town didn’t disappear once the construction crews left and the dam was completed.

For more than 30 years she owned and operated a real estate brokerage, helping people and businesses settle in the community that she dearly loved.

She also served on the city’s planning commission and was active in local and state politics, fighting for issues such as equal rights.

We also marked the passing of longtime resident Vern Burk, who died Sept. 11.

While he recognized the importance of the town’s heritage, and was instrumental in helping preserve one of it’s largest assets, the Boulder Dam Hotel, he also had the vision to look forward and see what could be done to continue making Boulder City a place where people wanted to live and visit.

With his wife of 68 years, Darlene, he introduced art to the downtown landscape. Through the Boulder City Public Art Scape’s annual art walk and fundraiser, statues were installed on local sidewalks, many of which have since been donated to the city and attract attention daily.

Some of the statues depict the city’s origins and others strictly add to the area’s aesthetics.

When they stepped down from the Art Scape’s board and the group disbanded in 2014, the group had purchased or donated more than 30 sculptures worth more than $250,000. Among the last ones installed was “If It Isn’t One Thing, It’s Your Mother,” which depicts a trapper in a coon-skin cap protecting himself and his horse against a bear by fending it off with a frying pan.

One of his favorite sculptures, it was purchased for $30,000 by 24 individuals who made donations to honor their friend.

“We love Boulder City and this gathering exemplifies why we love Boulder City,” he said at the time.

He also served on the hospital’s board of trustees, working diligently to make sure the community had a place to turn to in times of illness and emergency.

This blending of the past and future are essential to telling Boulder City’s story and ensuring that the community remains a special place to be, whether you live or work here or just come to visit for a couple of hours.

The legacies of Laura and Vern are firmly woven into the city’s history and both will be missed greatly.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Guest commentary: Yes votes will raise funds for pool, not taxes

Broadbent Memorial Park encompasses five acres of recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, tennis courts and green space for picnic and play areas. The Boulder City Pool offers healthy, affordable, enriching and fun programs.

Police need our support

In 1962, President (John F.) Kennedy signed a proclamation, established by a joint congressional resolution, designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor all peace officers who were killed or disabled in the line of duty. The week of May 15 was designated as National Police Week. This year, National Police Week is May 9-15.

Legislature accomplished much, but more to do

It is my honor to serve as the Assembly Republican caucus whip in the 81st legislative session. The caucus fought to open the building to the public long before session began. Our pressure was eventually successful in opening the building. It has been a pleasure meeting with some of my constituents inside my office who made the journey up and I look forward to seeing more.

Vaccines necessary for return to activities

Spring has arrived with warming temperatures along with the usual winds. We are also beginning to see the warming of our local businesses with the downward trends of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents’ passion for city blazed during primary

Congratulations are in order for Councilwoman-elect Sherri Jorgensen and Cokie Booth and Matt Fox, who will face off for the second City Council seat in June’s general election.

Mask use, types raise many questions

Along with the mask mandates and protocols, I am fascinated by the many different mask designs. Aside from those that are medically proven, those that adhere to the face in such a way that no air whatsoever can escape around the mask, generally speaking, the majority of masks do absolutely nothing, especially those made of cloth.

Attorney selection not surprising

Is history repeating itself? It certainly seems to be the case.

Series shares impact of fraud

Does everything always come down to how much money will be made? Do we know what truth is? Does truth still matter?