Local personalities

A light lunch with Moya

Photo By David Robert

So you want to have lunch with Reno arts benefactress Moya Lear. We know you do. When we ask readers every year to name the local person that they’d most like to have lunch with, Moya wins.

What’s it like to have lunch with this witty, gracious woman?

Well, it’s fun and very interesting, says Angela Rodriguez-Cao, campaign development manager for Reno’s Theater Coalition.

And to what fine dining establishment might you and Moya go?

“You will definitely go to the Steakhouse at Harrah’s,” Rodriguez-Cao says.

Moya will likely order her favorite, a half-order of Snoopy Salad. You might opt for the salad, too, or you’ll be spending lunch lusting for that little bed of greens with little shrimp and avocados. Maybe you’ll also order the zesty onion soup—the soup that is served dripping deliciously over the sides of a gigantic onion.

Moya is so gracious during lunch that you are put completely at ease. Of course, it’s cool being seen with the woman who headed Lear Avia Inc. after the death of her husband, William Powell Lear, in 1978. As chairman of the board of Lear, Moya took over the development of the Lear Fan and brought that airplane to its first flight. Moya has been inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneers’ Hall of Fame. She’s received six honorary doctorates. She served on President Reagan’s International Private Enterprise Task Force.

But she’s also wonderfully active on the local level. Moya’s been on the boards of the Nevada Opera Association, the Nevada Festival Ballet and the Sierra Arts Foundation.

In fact, if you’re interested in the arts, that might be a likely topic of conversation.

“If it were me, we’d be talking about the Lear Theater,” says Rodriguez-Cao, noting that the generous Moya got that project going with a $1.1 million grant. Rodriguez-Cao might give Moya an update on fund raising for the theater, explaining the details of a new campaign.

Maybe you’ve brought along a copy of Moya’s book, An Unforgettable Flight, for Moya to sign. Perhaps she’ll tell a story or two, or talk about growing up as a Christian Scientist. It’s also quite probable that Moya will talk a bit about the goings-on in her family, telling stories about her grandchildren.

“She’s very warm and endearing,” Rodriguez-Cao says. After her baby was born, she recalls, Moya gave her some advice on marriage and raising children. Rodriguez-Cao had been complaining a bit about an imbalance in the mom/dad division of labor in parenting.

“I think I said, ‘Why is it that dads don’t do as much?’ “ Rodriguez-Cao says. “And Moya told me that it’s a woman’s place to take care of the child, a mother’s responsibility to take that very seriously.”

Though the sentiment isn’t exactly politically correct these days, the way Moya spoke of being a mother made the more traditional role of mother seem like a wonderful privilege.

“In a way, she was telling me that it’s a mother’s gift,” Rodriguez-Cao says.

The lunch is a leisurely event. But as all good things must come to an end, so does this time spent over soup and salad at Harrah’s. In parting, Moya gives you a hug and a friendly smooch.

You thank her for everything.