Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 | 11:34 p.m.
Robert Forbuss dedicated his life to improving Las Vegas, and on Friday night, hundreds of people filled the Smith Center to reflect on his life and the impact he had on them at his memorial.
Forbuss died Aug. 12 of Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 64. He was a philanthropist who fought passionately to support the gay and lesbian community. He was an educator, who served on the Clark County School Board and has an elementary school named after him. He also served in leadership roles at Mercy Medical Services and the new Gay and Lesbian Center, scheduled to open in December, will be named after him.
Forbuss’ reach in the community was extensive. Rob Meese, who was friends with him for 15 years, remarked that the sheer turnout at the memorial showed how much Forbuss meant to people.
“Just the size of the memorial — who gets a send-off like this?” Meese said. “Harry Reid was in a car crash, and he still came.”
There were chuckles and tears throughout the memorial as various speakers shared stories about Forbuss. Former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones remarked how stubborn he could be, but also how important he was to her. Forbuss Elementary School Principal Shawn Paquette shared stories of how integral Forbuss was to the school, and how 1,000 students surprised him with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" when he turned 60.
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and even Sen. Harry Reid, who was in a car crash earlier in the afternoon, also gave speeches.
The Forbuss Elementary choir sang in his honor, and there were various slide shows showing pictures of him throughout his life.
After the service, Patricia Martinelli-Price choked up as she talked about Forbuss. The Pulidor Foundation executive director had worked closely with him on the foundation.
“What an incredible human being,” Martinelli-Price said. “He was always happy and helpful and very respectful and just loved life.”