Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004 | 7:41 a.m.
CARSON CITY - Nevada Supreme Court Justice Myron Leavitt, who had a public service career of more than 30 years, died Friday night at a Las Vegas hospital. He was 73 years old.
Leavitt was recovering from a kidney transplant performed Nov. 17. He became ill several days ago and was taken to the hospital for a checkup.
His daughter District Judge Michelle Leavitt said the kidney and heart were functioning as expected.
The cause of death was immediately unknown.
Leavitt had planned to return to the court for hearings in Las Vegas on Monday, however his doctor had advised him it was too soon to come back.
Chief Justice Miriam Shearing called Leavitt a "generous person who added so much to the court."
"He has been a public servant for so long, his passing will be a great loss to the state," she said.
Former Gov. Mike O'Callaghan, executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun, said Leavitt was a great Nevadan who will be sorely missed.
"Myron has been one of Nevada's finest and dedicated public servants," O'Callaghan said. "His legacy has been capped by exceptional leadership and contribution on our highest court.
"The state of Nevada will miss our most outstanding son."
The Supreme Court has cancelled its scheduled hearings in Las Vegas this week.
Leavitt, viewed as a conservative, was elected to the Supreme Court in 1998 when the court was expanded to seven members. He won re-election in 2000 without opposition.
During his recovery, he kept up with his caseload, working at home writing and signing court orders and opinions.
Leavitt was born Oct. 27, 1930, in Las Vegas. He graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1948 where he was named the outstanding athlete of his class. During his senior year he was named to the all-state football and track team.
He obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of
Nevada, Reno in 1952. He attended the university on an athletic scholarship and played football and ran track.
He received his law degree from the University of Utah.
He served as justice of the peace in Las Vegas for one term from 1961-1962; as Clark County commissioner from 1971 to 1974; as Las Vegas city commissioner from 1975 to 1978; as lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1982 and as a Clark County District Judge from 1984 to 1998.
As justice of the peace, he established the first medical-coroner system in the county. He also created the first night court for small claims cases.
As county commission, he initiated the drive to build the Dula Senior Citizen Center.
As lieutenant governor he presided over the state Senate where he broke a tie to help move a restrictive abortion bill through the Legislature, and he broke another tie vote to kill the Equal Rights Amendment. He also cast the deciding vote to break a tie and retain capital punishment.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley; 11 children: Dennis Leavitt, Steven Leavitt, Kathy Wright, Cindy Foote, Deborah Earl, Thomas Leavitt, Andrew Leavitt, Michelle Leavitt, Delbert Leavitt, James Leavitt and Susan Abbatangelo; and one brother Jack Leavitt.
It was his son James that donated the kidney, but Leavitt said all of his children offered their kidneys.
A funeral has been set for Wednesday at noon at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 4040 E. Wyoming Ave. near Charleston and Lamb Boulevards.