67°F
weather icon Clear

Former owner, operator of Saddle West passes away at 81

A veritable leader in the local gaming industry has died.

Robert H. Huffman, described as a Pahrump gaming and hotel pioneer, entrepreneur and community leader passed away on March 15, 2019. He was 81.

According to longtime close friend and business associate Jack Sanders, Huffman was the owner and operator of the Saddle West Hotel Casino in Pahrump from 1975 through 1989.

Sanders, a local resident since 1985, is also the owner of Pahrump’s Sanders Family Winery.

“Bob was a happy-go-lucky guy,” Sanders said. “He was very much into the community, and he was also a hell of a golfer and a great promoter. Bob never left Pahrump. He stayed here the whole time. He was always involved with the dirt race track. He was doing that up until about two or three years ago when he finally disposed of his interests.”

Benevolent soul

As the owner and operator of Saddle West, Sanders said Huffman was a very generous man and treated his employees quite well.

“He loved to go out on Lake Mead, where he had a boat as well as me,” Sanders recalled. “Once a year, we would have an employee week out there, generally in late April. He would rent houseboats and any employees on their days off, we would host employee week out on Lake Mead. He was very much in tune and in touch with all of his employees on a personal basis. He literally was a friend to all of them.”

Business associates

Sanders also noted that both he and Huffman worked on rebranding the Saddle West Casino into a bonafide resort, by way of Sanders’ business at the time, known as Discovery Institute.

Once the Saddle West Hotel built, a decision was made to change the image to a resort hotel and casino in an effort to attract tourists for overnight stays.

“When I met him back then,” he actually hired my company Discovery Institute, to do all of the work on the new hotel,” Sanders recalled. “When I first came out here in 1985, Saddle West had about 32 slot machines, one live gaming area and restaurant, but they had no hotel.

“We suggested for him to concentrate on bringing people in from outside the market and take advantage of the traffic that was beginning to flow through our town into Death Valley and give them a reason to stop. While we did that, in 1988, I helped him for two years and built the hotel. When I went into the winery business, I dissolved Discovery Institute.”

Moving on

In 1989, Sanders said Huffman sold the property to a company called Shinehouse and Duesing, to pursue other interests.

“Bob was also a partner and developer of the Pahrump Valley Speedway, which is still a popular Pahrump attraction,” he said. “He served as an elected member of the Pahrump Town Board and was a founding charter member of Pahrump Rotary Club. Bob was somewhat of a philanthropist by financially supporting the welfare of others and the community. He was also an elected member of the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce and served as vice president as well as president. Bob loved the idea of service organizations and was a proud member of the Pahrump Elks Lodge as well as the Pahrump Moose Lodge.”

Final thoughts

While summing up his thoughts on his longtime friend’s passing, Sanders said Huffman always had a special place in his heart for those who served in the military.

“He had a special place and respect in his heart for our American veterans,” he said. “His life was his business and if he wasn’t in the casino, he was on the golf course. Bob also took great pride and joy of the many friends he made throughout his life. The pride and joy of the past few years were found with his wife Marianida and son Carlston Jay. We will all miss Bob.”

Efforts were not immediately successful to get comments about Huffman from current Saddle West management.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Nye County residents honored as Nevada heroes

Throughout the disruption and chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been everyday citizens doing incredible work to help their communities through these difficult times, giving countless hours and endless energy in the mission to keep people safe, healthy and connected and Nevada Health Response is striving to ensure those actions do not go unnoticed.

PVYA goes virtual for 2020

Pahrump Valley Youth Activities was nearly forced to forego its 2020 Summer Camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic but through a partnership with the NyE Communities Coalition, the beloved annual event has been saved and will now take place virtually, helping keep both participants and staff safe and healthy.

Nye County Commission meetings and certain offices reopen to public

On Tuesday, June 2, the Nye County Commission held its first meeting with in-person public attendance since early March, when the governor declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak and issued an emergency directive banning gatherings of more than 10 people.

Optimizing your freezer saves time and money

Freezing food saves time by reducing grocery store runs and money when you purchase sale items in quantity. Make the most of your investment by using your freezer to its full potential.

Pahrump’s Leslie Street freshly paved, county to tackle finish work

Leslie Street in the Pahrump Valley has a fresh new coat of asphalt, with paving of the 1-mile stretch between Irene Street and Basin Avenue concluding as of June 1. There is, however, still some finishing work to be done before the project is complete, tasks that, just as the prep work conducted before the paving was laid, will be handled by Nye County Public Works crews.

Three die in Inyo County crash

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews responded to several fatal vehicle crashes last weekend.

Ford warns against utility imposter scams

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on Friday advised Nevadans to watch out for utility imposter phone scams as local businesses reopen.

Sisolak approves plan for tests, labs, contact tracing

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday, June 1 announced the approval of a comprehensive community-based testing, laboratory analysis and contact tracing plan to support efforts to reopen Nevada’s economy.

Study shows record high rates of food insecurity

One in three children will experience food insecurity this year because of the COVID-19, according to the annual Map the Meal Gap study released Tuesday by Three Square Food Bank.