Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Longtime Las Vegas newsman Murray Westgate dies at 85

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Murray A. Westgate on July 23, 1978. SUN ARCHIVES

A memorial service for longtime Las Vegas television and radio newsman Murray Westgate is scheduled for Palm Downtown Mortuary at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 on what would have been his 86th birthday, his family announced late Monday.

Westgate died July 26 at Nathan Adelson Hospice apparently from complications of a stroke he suffered in May. His death was not immediately disclosed to the public.

About two weeks after Westgate’s death, on Aug. 9, he was posthumously inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at its 19th annual gala at the Four Seasons.

“Murray was a giving man who did a lot of (anonymous) charity work in Las Vegas,” longtime friend and venerable Las Vegas comedian Cork Proctor said. “He was a credit to the electronic media industry – soft-spoken, very professional and very bright.”

Proctor recalled that Westgate reported on Las Vegas floods in the 1970s, where he criticized local officials for not taking a more active approach to address the problem. Westgate ended one TV report by saying “One of these storms may one day wash this town away.” Soon after, Clark County began building retention basins that today help prevent major flooding.

In 1990, Murray and veteran Las Vegas architect Dina Remeta, with the help of about two dozen other media figures and business professionals, formed the non-profit Southern Nevada Clean Communities, Inc., which initially focused on cleaning up litter and graffiti.

Remeta praised Westgate’s dedication to the group’s cause to promote a cleaner community through awareness, education, and community participation. The group’s efforts resulted in legislation for Nevada recycling as well as solar energy systems.

Westgate was born Sept. 5, 1928, in Saskatchewan, Canada, and graduated from Midwest Broadcasting College in Chicago. He began his career in Canadian radio.

Prior to coming to Nevada, Westgate served as a correspondent for 23 radio and TV stations nationwide and all three major television networks.

In 1969, Westgate relocated to Reno and worked as a reporter for KTVN-TV, Channel 2. A year later, he settled in Las Vegas, where he received several awards for covering the education beat for radio station KLAV, of which he was news director.

In 1972, Westgate was appointed news director for KLAS-TV, Channel 8. Over the next five years, Westgate worked at KSHO-TV (now KTNV-TV Channel 13), KVVU-TV Channel 5 and radio station KLUC. Westgate anchored Channel 13’s 5 p.m. newscast in the mid-70s.

In 1978, Westgate ran unsuccessfully for the Clark County Commission. He returned to KLUC radio and KVVU-TV and hosted The Murray Westgate Report, addressing issues that ranged from gay rights to local seniors being underserved by federal agencies assigned to care for the needs of the elderly.

In the 1980s and ‘90s Westgate worked in public relations, primarily serving as the Nevada Power — now NV Energy — spokesman.

In recent years, Westgate split residency between Thailand and Las Vegas, serving as president of the Thailand-America Educational Foundation, Inc., a Nevada-based, non-profit corporation. The foundation administers the Fulbright Academic Exchange Program in Thailand and has long promoted educational and cultural exchange between Thailand and the United States.

Westgate’s survivors include his wife Kowit and their daughter Ellen.

Ed Koch is a former longtime Las Vegas Sun reporter.

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