Lou LaPorta | Henderson Historical Society - Nevada

President, CEO

2011 – 2020

Lou LaPorta

Lou LaPorta, President, CEO

Any version of a Mount Rushmore for the city of Henderson would have to include Louis F. LaPorta, a beloved founding father of the city, and a longtime businessman and public servant.

Lou, as he was known to all, passed away on March 30 at the age of 96, after helping shepherd Henderson from its incorporation in 1953 as a modest community of 7,410 residents to its position today as a vital, bustling metropolitan hub now ranked as Nevada’s second largest city.

Lou, who was born in New York City in 1924, and his wife, Elayne, had actually lived in Henderson since his honorable discharge from the United States Army Air Corps in 1945, where he served as a bombardier during World War II. Living off base at the Henderson Townsite prior to the war’s end, the young newlyweds decided to make the small federal enclave their lifelong home.

Lou wasted no time building a remarkable legacy. As one of the city’s pioneers, he served on the first city council, starting the town with “$80,000 in cash,” he told author Geoff Schumacher in the book “Sun, Sin and Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas.” Not only did he serve on the first council — a position he held until 1959 — the initial meeting was held at his home.

“He was absolutely dedicated and loved (Henderson),” said Valerie LaPorta, his daughter. “This is what made his heart beat each day.”

After his stint on the city council, Lou served as a Clark County commissioner for two terms from 1960 to 1969. At various times he was president of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce and board chairman of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. He also earned an MBA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and owned a successful insurance agency for many decades.
He and Elayne raised three children in Henderson.

While in office, Lou oversaw the development of critical roads for Clark County and was instrumental in the expansion of Henderson Libraries.

In 2011, Lou along with Valerie, founded the Henderson Historical Society with the mission to foster public awareness and pride as well as to preserve Henderson’s history for future generations. “If you live in an area and don’t know what it’s all about, then you’re lost,” LaPorta said.

A charitable man, Lou created the society as a “commemorative thank you” to the city, and there aren’t words to describe how great of man he was, said Denell Butler-Hahn, a longtime friend, original Henderson resident and member of the society’s board of directors.

In a statement upon Lou’s passing, Henderson Mayor Debra March summed up what this pioneer meant to the community and to all who knew him:

“LaPorta will be remembered as a significant figure in Henderson’s history, a history that he helped document for our benefit and the benefit of future generations. Lou was a friend of many, and he will be missed by many.”