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Gragson, Oran K. (Oran Kenneth), 1911-2002


Politician Oran Kenneth Gragson was the longest serving mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada, a position he held from 1959 to 1975. He was born February 14, 1911, near Tucamari, New Mexico. In 1919, his family moved to Arkansas, then later to Texas. Gragson came to the Las Vegas area in 1932, and worked at the Hoover Dam for a short time before finding employment in highway construction. He managed the Boulder Inn Casino and Dance Hall for a brief time, and later opened the North Main Furniture Store, followed by the Charleston Appliance Center.

In 1959, Gragson ran and was elected mayor of Las Vegas. Three years later he won the Republican nomination for governor, but lost to incumbent Grant Sawyer in the general election. Gragson won re-election as mayor in 1963, 1967, and 1971. During his time in office, he defeated two recall attempts. He chose not to seek a fifth term, and retired from office in 1975. In 1968, he won the Fiorello LaGuardia Award for "Outstanding Mayor of the Year."

During Gragson's tenure as mayor, he oversaw the construction of several major structures, including Cashman Field and the Las Vegas Convention Center. The City of Las Vegas acquired several properties for neighborhood parks and community centers, and Gragson founded the Mayor's Urban Renewal Committee, which primarily funded housing and community projects. Gragson increased highway funding and funds for a new city hall.

Gragson passed away on October 7, 2002, in Las Vegas, Nevada.