Friday, March 19, 2004 | 10:50 a.m.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., spoke of her friend and second father figure, Mike O'Callaghan, honoring him with a speech on the House floor Thursday.
"I have never known a finer man in my life," Berkley said of the decorated veteran, former Nevada governor and Las Vegas Sun executive editor.
"If you were a millionaire or if you were homeless, Mike treated you with the same dignity and respect, and he was legendary for his efforts on behalf of those who were down on their luck.
O'Callaghan died March 5.
In her brief speech on the House floor, during the period in which members are allowed to speak on any topic they wish, Berkley outlined O'Callaghan's life, from his childhood in La Crosse, Wis., and military service in Korea to his teaching career in Henderson and his two terms as Nevada's most popular governor.
"Throughout his eight years in office, he was a hands-on leader and relentless champion for those he served," Berkley said. "He was known to make surprise visits to prisons, mental hospitals and other state-run institutions and could often be seen eating in the cafeteria, so that he would know firsthand what life was like for those in those facilities."
Berkley first met O'Callaghan when she was 19 and the student body president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"He became my mentor and a trusted friend," she said.