The man who shepherded the 1969 consolidation of Carson City and Ormsby County died in Reno this week. He was 78.
Lifelong Nevadan Hank Etchemendy died at Reno's St. Mary's Regional Medical Center on Tuesday of complications following surgery for a broken leg.
Hired in 1966, Etchemendy was the last Ormsby County manager and first city manager of Carson City, where he worked until he left to become Reno's city manager in 1978.
"He worked tirelessly for the people of Carson City and he was a good public servant," said Carson City resident Maizie Harris Jessie. "He was very well thought of. Anything like this is a loss for the whole community."
The son of French Basque parents, Etchemendy was born Oct. 6, 1923 in Eureka. He graduated from Elko High School and attended Colorado College at Colorado Springs for two years, majoring in civil engineering.
Etchemendy served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1941 through January 1946 at Guadalcanal and returned to the service as an artillery instructor and aerial photography interpreter during the Korean War.
Etchemendy became a building inspector in Elko in 1952 and also held jobs there as engineering crew chief and assistant city manager before taking the position as Elko's first city manager in 1955, a position he held for 11 years.
Carson City had a population of about 12,000 when Etchemendy arrived in 1966. In addition to his job as city manager, he was county manager of what was then Ormsby County and subsequently guided those two governments to consolidation in 1969.
"Since coming to Carson City, Etchemendy has had his hand in virtually every major policy decision and action taken by the city," said an Appeal editorial in March 1978.
Known as a financial and budgetary expert, Etchemendy served on the state committee that developed the Local Government Budget Act. He served on an advisory committee to the Nevada Tax Commission and was chairman of the 11-member Advisory Committee to the Department of Taxation.
An active member of the Nevada League of Cities, he helped develop a format to measure the financial health of cities and counties.
He retired from city managing in 1980 and held his last position, executive director of the Nevada Association of School Boards, for 15 years until his retirement 18 months ago.
"I met a lot of people from all over the state through my father," said his son, Arnold. "Those that dealt with him said he was honest in everything he did. He had a lot of integrity and was very well respected."
Peggy, his wife of 53 years, said he loved Nevada and its deserts.
"He was very calm and very honest and he just had a way of dealing with people," she said. "He was the kind of person who was happy whatever he was doing.
"We discussed it and we came to the conclusion that we've had a very good life," she said. "There is nothing we regretted."
Memorial contributions may be made to the Washoe County School District Education Foundation, c/o Mindy Elliott, Wells Fargo Bank, 5340 Kietzke Lane, Reno 89511 or to St. John's Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden.
IF YOU GO
What: Memorial service for Henry "Hank" Etchemendy
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: St. John's Presbyterian Church, 1070 W. Plumb Lane, Reno.
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