Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003 | 8:33 a.m.
Ruth Doolittle Belding, a member of two Southern Nevada pioneering families and the first prom queen at Las Vegas High School, died Sunday in her sleep at her Boulder City home. She was 86.
She was the daughter of Boulder City Postmaster, City Manager, Municipal Judge and bandleader F.M. "Pops" Doolittle and the widow of prominent longtime Boulder City businessman Don Belding, who co-owned the Gold Strike Inn, now the Hacienda.
Services for the Southern Nevada resident of 83 years will be will be 10 a.m. Friday at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Boulder City. Burial will be at the Boulder City Cemetery.
"My mother was a simple, unpretentious woman who never said an unkind word about anyone and was totally oblivious to her place in Southern Nevada history," said Dave Belding, a senior executive of Mandalay Bay Resorts Group and co-owner of the Hacienda.
Born Sept. 21, 1916, in Boston, Ruth was the lone child of the former Alice Grows. The family arrived in Las Vegas in 1919 on the Union Pacific Railroad. They got off at the downtown station and found none of the town's streets were paved.
Ruth was raised on the Helen J. Stewart ranch next to the Old Mormon Fort.
Belding attended Las Vegas High School, where she was elected the school's first prom queen.
After attending the University of Nevada in Reno, she returned to Southern Nevada in the mid-1930s, settling in Boulder City and working for Earl Brothers at the Boulder City Theater, where she sold tickets.
On Christmas Day 1937, she married Don Belding, whose father was native Nevadan Ray Belding, operator of the old Company Store in Boulder City.
Don Belding and his longtime business partner, O. L. Raney, ran a service station and later operated the Boulder City Laundry and Cleaners, where Ruth was a longtime employee.
In the 1950s, Ruth concentrated on raising her two children while her husband and Raney built the Gold Strike on the site of old gold and turquoise mines off U.S. 93 east of Boulder City.
In 1958, the gambling hall opened as Fort Lucinda, but soon after became the Gold Strike Inn. Don Belding died in May 1998 and the Gold Strike was destroyed by fire a month later. It reopened as the Hacienda in November 1999.
In addition to her son, she is survived by another son, Richard Belding of Boulder City; and two grandchildren, Bradley Belding of Las Vegas, and Bonnie Belding of Boulder City.