Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 | 7:09 p.m.
Paul Henry, who served as chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party from 1996 to 1999 after coming to Las Vegas to manage Sen. Harry Reid’s local office, has died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 48.
He loved to teach others, was quick to make friends, and was extremely knowledgeable about his two passions: politics and religion, his friends said.
“Some people collect coins or baseball cards. Paul collected friends,” said Paul DiNino, a Washington political consultant who met Henry while working on Reid’s 1998 campaign. “No one was a business acquaintance or colleague, they were all friends.”
Born Aug. 31, 1963, in Connecticut, Henry studied engineering before earning a law degree from George Washington University.
After short stints in Reid’s Washington and Las Vegas offices and two terms as head of the state party, Henry spent a decade consulting various businesses before he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2009.
Despite rounds of experimental treatments, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, Henry stayed in positive spirits until his death Wednesday at Stanford University Hospital, his wife, Diane Lipscomb, said.
All the while, he stayed on top of political events.
“He always dreamed one day of running for office, but with the events of the past few years, it was hard because it took so much out of him,” she said. “He still worked and did everything he could. … He was actively involved until the moment he couldn’t communicate.”
DiNino said Henry’s faith gave him optimism that he could beat the cancer. “Paul never had a bad day, Paul was never sad, Paul always saw the good side in people,” he said.
Mitch Fox, the host of “Nevada Week in Review,” said Henry was a “brilliant conversationalist” who was respected by members of both parties for his integrity and honesty.
“He leaves behind a tremendous reputation that you don’t find often in politics,” Fox said. “He didn’t have an ego; he didn’t have an inflated sense of himself.”
Reid said in a statement that Henry “was a wonderful man and made many contributions to Nevada. My thoughts are with his wife, Diane, and his entire family.”
Rep. Shelley Berkley said: “Those who knew Paul will remember him as a dynamic businessman, dedicated public servant, successful political leader and a devoted family man whose energy inspired everyone around him. He will be truly missed.”
And current state Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said, “Paul’s dedication and hard work were crucial to creating a strong Nevada State Democratic Party. He served our party well over the years and will be deeply missed.”
Besides his wife, Henry is survived by the couple’s two daughters, Alexandra and Katie, and his brother, Michael.
A memorial service will be held at noon Dec. 27 at the Church at South Las Vegas, 3051 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. A wake and funeral service is being planned for early January in Methuen, Mass., where he was raised.