Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 | 11:30 p.m.
Kitty Rodman, a native Virginian who followed her husband to Las Vegas in 1952 and subsequently became a pioneer businesswoman, revered philanthropist and champion of education, died Thursday. She was 88.
Known by friends as “Miss Kitty,” she was one of the first women involved in the city’s construction industry and was a member of the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees from 1986 to 2011. She was inducted into the school’s Nevada Business Hall of Fame.
School officials publicly shared news of her death Thursday afternoon and said Rodman battled with Parkinson’s disease for years. Rodman, whose husband died years ago, had no children or surviving relatives. She requested a private interment at Palm Mortuary.
“She was a stalwart businesswoman with a heart of gold,” UNLV acting President Don Snyder said. “Her passion for education was inexhaustible, and she leaves a lasting legacy at UNLV.”
In 1953, Rodman helped form the Sierra Construction Corp., which built projects for the Atomic Energy Commission, Nellis Air Force Base, the Clark County School District, UNLV and several hotels and casinos.
A recipient of numerous honors — including an honorary doctorate from UNLV in 1995 and the UNLV President's Medal in 1998 — she was also a founding member of the school’s Jean Nidetch Women’s Center.
“It knocks your socks off when you think about it,” said UNLV Foundation Executive Director Nancy Strouse, recalling Rodman’s “gracious Southern manner.”
Her financial gifts helped fund the school’s physical therapy program and several of the school’s buildings, including some of its dorm halls.
Myra Greenspun, wife of Las Vegas Sun Editor and Publisher Brian Greenspun, called Rodman “one of the kindest women I’ve ever met,” noting that she “epitomized the essence of a modern woman way before her time.”
“She lived in a man’s world and she lived in a woman’s world,” Greenspun said. “It was impressive that she (operated) in the construction business way before women were in it.”