Las Vegas Sun

December 12, 2018

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Obituary: Monday services set for Jerry’s Nugget co-founder

Services for Jerry Lodge, who 37 years ago with his late brother-in-law Jerry Stamis founded Jerry's Nugget casino in North Las Vegas, will be 10 a.m. Monday in St. John the Baptist's Greek Orthodox Church.

Lodge, who grew up in poverty in his native Greece, struck it rich as a teenaged casino owner in Alaska, and later operated casinos in Idaho and Lovelock, died Wednesday in Las Vegas. He was 85.

Visitation for the Las Vegas resident of 40 years will be 2-8 p.m. Sunday at St. John's, 5300 S. El Camino Road. Burial will be in Palm Valley View Memorial Park.

Lodge was born Jan. 26, 1916, in Cephelonia, Greece. In interviews, Lodge said all he could remember about his youth in Greece was always being hungry. At age 10, Lodge was sent to America to live with his father. Two years later, he got his first job washing dishes at a restaurant in East Liberty, Pa.

At age 17, with just $500 in his pocket, Lodge journeyed to Kodiak, Alaska, to open a gambling house. In a short time, he made his fortune in that boomtown. Lodge later owned a casino in Boise, Idaho, until the state outlawed gambling. Lodge then moved to Lovelock and owned the Persian hotel-casino for 10 years.

Frank Steffan, a former employee, encouraged Lodge to come to North Las Vegas to open Jerry's Nugget, which Lodge did with Stamis in 1964. Steffan later became casino manager.

The first Jerry's Nugget opened across from where the casino now stands. The operation moved across the street on the site of the Bonanza casino in 1969.

Lodge is survived by two daughters, Kimberly Lodge-Webb and Julie Kalaftis-Maes, and one son, Angelo Kalafatis, all of Las Vegas; and two grandchildren.