Bill Farr 1923-2017

Bill Farr 1923-2017

Bill Farr of Sparks served the public at every level from city to national.

He was in the military during World War II, including landing at Normandy on D-Day and marching into Paris. He can be seen in a photo in Life magazine taken by Lt. Bob Landry at the Arc de Triomphe.

He was the Reno office manager for U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht.

He was elected to the Nevada Senate, serving from 1966 to 1970.

He was elected to the Washoe County Commission, serving from 1976 to 1983.

He joined the Sparks fire department as a volunteer in 1946, rose to chief and served there until 1976.

He also served in numerous other unpaid capacities. After the MGM Hotel fire in Las Vegas in 1980, he was appointed by Gov. Robert List as a member of a study commission chaired by Las Vegas businessperson Kenny Guinn to recommend policy and legal changes.

In his last speech to the Nevada Legislature as a U.S. senator, Harry Reid recalled how he and fellow assemblymember Richard Bryan in 1969 introduced a piece of fire legislation, only to be told by Sen. Farr during a hearing, “In fact, this legislation is so good, we passed it last session.” Farr’s legislative accomplishments and legacy have been obscured because his records have been filed by legislative staffers under his first name Francis, which he did not use.

One of Farr’s most notable acts was often attributed to others. In March 1960, Storey County District Attorney Robert Moore obtained a court order allowing him to destroy the Triangle Ranch Brothel as a nuisance. It was located just inside the Storey County line from Washoe County. Farr, the fire chief in Sparks, was called to the scene to burn the building down. He arrived with a fire engine and, after an interior inspection, set the building on fire. It was burned to the ground.

“I had been trained to stop fires, not start them,” Farr later told author Michael Archer.