Flags are at half-staff in Pahrump and around the state in memory of Nevada Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, a champion for education and homelessness initiatives, died Saturday morning in Carson City.
The North Las Vegas lawmaker took ill in the capital in the middle of the week. He was 51.
No cause of death had been released as of earlier this week. Thompson was at work in the Legislature on Wednesday, testifying in committee and appearing on the floor. He did not appear in committees on Thursday and was excused from session on Friday. His death shocked colleagues in the Legislature and others who had worked with him during his more than 25 years of public and community service.
“We are deeply saddened by Assemblyman Thompson’s sudden passing,” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said in a statement released Saturday. “He was well-respected by his colleagues in the Legislature for his dedication and leadership. His warm smile and larger-than-life presence will truly be missed in our Assembly chamber. We ask that you respect the privacy of his family at this difficult time.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak was ordering the flags to half-staff to honor Thompson.
“I am heartbroken by the unexpected passing of Assemblyman Thompson,” Sisolak said in a statement. “He spent his career in service to others, and dedicated his life to lifting up and protecting the most vulnerable in our community. They say that no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help another, and Assemblyman Thompson stood larger-than-life because of his selfless service to his fellow Nevadans.”
Thompson was appointed to the 17th District seat from North Las Vegas in 2013 and was serving his third elected term. He was chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. The Democratic Assembly caucus said he had worked on legislation to improve educational opportunities for students and services at state-funded family resource centers, expand access to HIV testing and end employment discrimination against those with criminal records.
A statement from Senate Republicans called Thompson a “tireless advocate for education and the community at large. His efforts to provide mentors and role models to the community’s youth were unmatched — he was the best mentor among them.”
And Assembly Republicans called him “a passionate champion of children from all walks of life; especially those who struggled without a home and those in foster care.”
“Assemblyman Thompson was one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever had the honor to serve with in the Assembly,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, R-Minden. “I cannot begin to express what a loss this is for our state.”
Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno, said in a statement that she met Thompson “lobbying as a mom in 2015,” and the two quickly became friends.
“We immediately hit it off and developed our friendship even further over the years as we served together. He was compassionate and passionate in all he set his heart and mind to do. His ability to inspire others was evident by the testimony of those whose lives he influenced. This is a tremendous loss in our state and lives.”
The ACLU of Nevada called Thompson a “true leader in the fight for liberty.”
“His dedication to homeless youth, preventing employment discrimination against those with criminal convictions, and ending the school to prison pipeline is unmatched,” the organization said in a statement. “He was an outstanding leader and will be sorely missed.”
Before his time in the Legislature, the North Las Vegas native had worked with the Clark County Organizational Development Center, the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition and the city of Las Vegas. He volunteered in several community causes and had worked on behalf of abused and neglected children in the foster care system as a court-appointed special advocate for more than 17 years.
Read more about Thompson on pvtimes.com
— Compiled from reports by Colton Lochhead and Bill Dentzer of the Las Review-Journal Capital Bureau