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Ronzone, Bertha Bishop, 1885-1969


Bertha Bishop “Mom” Ronzone (1885-1969) was the head of the largest privately-owned merchandising enterprise in the state of Nevada during her time. Through her hard work and perseverance, she received many titles such as “Nevada’s Golden Rule Pioneer Mother” in 1959, “Distinguished Nevadan” in 1967, and the founder and president of the Women’s Guild of the Church of Religious Science in 1969. She also had great interest in the education of her community, serving the School Board in Tonopah. Nominated by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Las Vegas, Ronzone displayed great faith and courage as a business woman. She was well known for her kindness, understanding, and cheerfulness to those around her.

Bertha Ronzone was born on April 16, 1885 in a small town near Des Moines, Iowa to Sarah and James W. Bishop. At a young age, she and her family moved to Fowler, California where she received her early education. She eventually married gold prospector Attilio "Ben" Ronzone December 12, 1901. The newlyweds chose to relocate to Alaska where their eldest child, Amy Ronzone, was born. Unfortunately before they had arrived, the Ronzones found out that Ronzone’s business partner sold their establishment and took their financial share. Staying in Alaska for two years, the Ronzones decided to seek financial welfare in Nevada in which they had heard news of mineral strikes.

Moving to Manhattan, Nevada in 1903, Bertha Ronzone earned her income by doing the laundry of the miners who worked in the town. She soon learned that the miners were in need of socks and clothing, leading her to the idea of purchasing socks while on her visit in Oakland, California and sending them home to her daughter Amy for her to sell. Due to the success of her sock business, Bertha Ronzone planned to open a general store in order to fulfill Manhattan’s clothing needs. After taking a loan of $500 from George Wingfield, a mining entrepreneur whom she had met in Alaska, her dream was brought to life in 1917 when she opened her first department store. Once the Manhattan boom was over in 1923, the Ronzone family relocated to Tonopah, Nevada where they reestablished their store in the Elks’ Building and later to E. Marks Clothing Store which they purchased. They had a second daughter, Esther, in 1913 and a son, Richard Ronzone, in 1917.

Receiving the news about the construction of the Hoover Dam, the Ronzones opened another branch in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1929, selling women’s and children’s clothing on Carson street. The town gradually grew along with their shop, and it was relocated to a larger establishment at 209 Fremont in 1935. After the death of Attilio Ronzone in 1938, Richard Ronzone returned from college to help operate the shop. Their business in Tonopah was sold in 1939, which allowed Amy and her husband to rejoin the family in Las Vegas. The family business proceeded to expand across Nevada, opening in the Gray, Reid, and Wright department store in Reno in 1943, a new building at 418 Fremont in 1946, and the new Boulevard Mall at Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas in 1968. Bertha Ronzone continued managing the family business until her death on November 5, 1969. Las Vegas’s Bertha Ronzone Elementary School was named in her honor.


"Bertha Ronzone." Women in Nevada History. Accessed July 29, 2020.

Moor, Angela. "Online Nevada Encyclopedia." Bertha Ronzone. September 29, 2010. Accessed July 29, 2020.

Wilkins, Sally. "Bertha Bishop Ronzone." Nevada Women's History Project. Accessed July 29, 2020.