Sheldon Adelson remembered as ‘a true American patriot’

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon G. Adelson, who died Monday night, was remembered Tuesday morning by leaders and others who recalled his business acumen, love of country as well as his philanthropy.

President Donald Trumpsaid in a statement: “Melania and I mourn the passing of Sheldon Adelson, and send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Miriam, his children and grandchildren. Sheldon lived the true American dream. His ingenuity, genius, and creativity earned him immense wealth, but his character and philanthropic generosity his great name. Sheldon was also a staunch supporter of our great ally the State of Israel. He tirelessly advocated for the relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors. Sheldon was true to his family, his country, and all those that knew him. The world has lost a great man. He will be missed.”

Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement: With the passing of Sheldon Adelson, America lost a giant, and Karen and I lost a friend. We join those around the country and the world who mourn this good and great man.

Sheldon Adelson not only lived the American dream, he embodied it; a philanthropist whose generosity knew no bounds and helped shape countless worthy causes; and a businessman who changed an immeasurable number of lives.

Sheldon Adelson believed deeply in America and in the importance of our historic alliance with the Jewish State of Israel. He championed the historic steps taken by our Administration to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem — a move that will further solidify America’s unbreakable bond with Israel for generations to come.

When Abner fell, King David said, “Do you not know that a leader and a great man has fallen in Israel this day?” Sheldon Adelson was a leader and a great man, whose legacy will inspire generations for years to come, and he will be deeply missed by family, friends, and all of us who had the privilege to know this truly extraordinary American.

To his beloved wife, Miriam, his children, and his 11 grandchildren: Karen and I extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy with a prayer. “May G-d comfort you among the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem” for his memory shall be a blessing for all time.”

— Former President George W. Bushsaid in a statement: Adelson “battled his way out of a tough Boston neighborhood to build a successful enterprise that loyally employed tens of thousands — and entertained millions. He was an American patriot, a generous benefactor of charitable causes, and a strong supporter of Israel. Sheldon was a generous benefactor of charitable causes, especially medical research and Jewish heritage education. He will be missed by many — none more than his beloved family.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, said in a statement: “Sheldon’s great actions to strengthen Israel’s position in the U.S. and to strengthen ties between Israel and the diaspora will be remembered for generations.” His statement also said he had received news of Adelson’s death with “deep sorrow and heartbreak.”

“We will forever remember Sheldon and his great contribution to Israel and the Jewish people.”

— Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement: “Few people have had such significant an impact on the hotel and gaming industry and on Nevada’s economy as Sheldon Adelson. He came to Las Vegas as a master of the convention business. Adelson became one of Nevada’s giants in gaming, conventions and hospitality. He was instrumental in transforming Las Vegas into the iconic destination it is today.

“He also left an indelible impact on Asia, where he brought Las Vegas-style resorts to people in the Far East, helping to build the thriving international gaming market that exists today.

“In the nearly four decades that I’ve known him, Sheldon Adelson has been outspoken with causes important to him. His advocacy for the state of Israel and Jewish causes was without equal and made a difference in countless lives both at home and abroad.”

“Landra and I offer our condolences to Miriam and the entire Adelson family.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolaksaid in a statement: “I was very saddened to hear of Sheldon Adelson’s passing. Sheldon was a man who believed in, succeeded in, and invested in bold and daring ideas that changed the State of Nevada.

“He came from very humble beginnings and rose to international prominence as an entrepreneur, a builder, and a philanthropist. He started as a customer, by building the preeminent computer convention in the world hosted by Las Vegas. He saw an opportunity, which many dismissed, and built the first convention center and resort complex on the Las Vegas Strip.

“His vision of Vegas as a premier business destination had a dramatic impact, as other resorts adopted this new business model and conventions and business have become a critical part of our success.

“Sheldon led the charge to bring the NFL to Las Vegas, and largely through his determination and leadership, we are now the home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

“There is no doubt that the Adelson family has been among Nevada’s most charitable residents. From programs to help the homeless and hungry, support for our universities and schools, developing addiction clinics, building the Adelson School, the family’s generosity has touched every corner of our State.

“For me, in these difficult times, one act stands above all. Despite suffering significant economic losses due to the global pandemic, the shutdowns and limited business, due to mitigation protocols, Sheldon made a commitment to keep all of his Las Vegas employees paid and insured. That commitment helped keep thousands of Nevadans afloat during the most difficult of months, and Sheldon’s commitment will never be forgotten.

“Kathy and I extend our deepest sympathies to Dr. Adelson, his children and all of his family and friends during this incredibly difficult time.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen said in a statement: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Sheldon Adelson. Sheldon and Miriam’s efforts to combat addiction and substance abuse in the Silver State changed the lives of many. As Jewish leaders, we also shared a deep concern for the rise in anti-Semitism and joined efforts to help combat hate. My thoughts are with Dr. Miriam Adelson and Sheldon’s entire family during this difficult time.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson’s vision helped transform Las Vegas from a small desert city into a world-class tourism destination. The Silver State’s massive business, entertainment, and convention industries are what they are today because of his life’s work and his dedication to building a Las Vegas that can cater to everyone from entrepreneurs to international travelers. My thoughts are with his family during this time.”

Congresswoman Susie Lee said in a statement: “I’m saddened to hear of Sheldon Adelson’s passing. He was a gaming giant who helped shape modern Las Vegas and employed thousands of Las Vegas families for decades. Most of all, I appreciate his and his family’s invaluable investments in our community, from opening clinics to help those struggling with opioid abuse, to founding the Adelson Educational Campus, a vibrant school that’s now a cornerstone of the Las Vegas Jewish community. His legacy will most certainly live on in every corner of southern Nevada. Sending my prayers and deepest condolences to his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, his children, and the entire Adelson family. Rest in Peace.”

Congressman Steven Horsfordsaid in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson left an undeniable mark on Las Vegas. Through his vast philanthropic efforts, he created new educational opportunities for Southern Nevada’s children and helped thousands of teens and adults struggling with opioid addiction overcome their illness. His legacy will live on through the Adelson Educational Campus and the Adelson Clinic, and Nevadans will continue to benefit from his generosity. I send my condolences to the entire Adelson family during their time of grief.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson helped make Las Vegas a top international travel destination. He played a key role in making our city a premiere sports town. I hope the Adelson family will carry on his philanthropic legacy and I am thinking of them in their time of grief.”

Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Clark County Commission chairman said in a statement: “My deepest condolences to his family and the team members at his properties. We are thankful for so many of the wonderful contributions he has made to our community. He was committed to our veterans and Nellis families across the valley and to fighting opioid addiction, assisted his team members with building numerous community gardens, and has long been a pillar of Nevada’s Jewish community. May his memory be a blessing.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement: “Beyond the public image and a Horatio Alger rise, Sheldon Adelson took Las Vegas to a new level of limitless tourism and convention success by bringing COMDEX (CES) into reality and building a five star hotel/casino empire. Little known but of enormous impact in our City was his enormous philanthropy and generosity. Mr. Adelson was a caring and religious man who quietly made lives much stronger and meaningful. Our prayers and condolences to Dr. Miriam and the Adelson family.”

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson built one of the world’s most recognizable gaming brands, and his impact has been felt across Las Vegas and around the world. It was heartening to many Nevada families that when the COVID crisis closed our resorts and casinos, he continued payroll and benefits for thousands of employees in the face of difficult economic circumstances. He and Dr. Adelson’s personal generosity led to the founding of the Adelson Clinic, which has helped many Nevadans through the difficult road to recovery from substance abuse over the last 20 years. I offer my condolences to Dr. Adelson and the entire Adelson family for their loss.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement: “Our nation lost a remarkable American with the passing of my friend Sheldon Adelson. Sheldon built an incredible life and career. He climbed from sleeping on tenement floors during the Great Depression as a young boy to literally towering over Las Vegas and beyond. He created countless jobs in the process. And he poured his success into philanthropy — from drug abuse treatment to research into cancer and other diseases to the countless Jewish causes around the world that were especially close to his heart.

“Elaine and I send our condolences to Miriam, the entire Adelson family, and all who mourn today. May his memory be a great blessing.”

Aaron Ford, Nevada attorney general, said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson is a man who has served our community in many ways: he was a pioneer in the casino and convention industry, a skilled businessman, and a philanthropist who funded a school, medical research, and countless other causes,” said AG Ford. “A man not born into wealth and privilege, Mr. Adelson was the son of immigrants who grew up sleeping on the floor of his family apartment in Boston. By the age of 12, he owned his first business and looked to the future with big dreams and a work ethic to match. By the end of his life, he had amassed over 50 companies.

“Mr. Adelson was a man who worked hard to further religious causes. His work within and for the Jewish community is world renowned and will be a legacy for generations. And after the death of George Floyd, he invited me to discuss race issues with his employees to foster unity within our community, resulting in Sands-sponsored programs in the community to improve race relations. I will be forever grateful for that.

“Through his deeds, Mr. Adelson has left a lasting mark on our community, and our Nevada family is grateful for his contributions. To his wife, Miriam, his children Gary, Mitchell and Shelley, and to all of his friends and family, I extend my deepest condolences.”

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement: “Today the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest, most generous businessmen in history.

“His life made him a fearless advocate for freedom and entrepreneurship and a source of counsel and support to a generation of conservatives, including me.”

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: “Sheldon Adelson, born into a family of limited means in Boston during the Great Depression, started his first business at the age of 12 and never stopped working, building, and creating. He was an entrepreneur who believed deeply in the American Dream and free enterprise, and felt a responsibility to use the fruits of his work to do what he believed was necessary to help keep those things alive for others.

“We didn’t agree on everything, but there was never any doubt about the strength of his commitment to opportunity, or the generosity of his spirit, and he always had my respect. I offer my sincere condolences to Miriam, his family, and his organization on his passing.”

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, said: “Sheldon was a true American patriot and a giant among men. He treated his employees like family. His philanthropic generosity changed countless lives. The US-Israel relationship is stronger today because of him. My heart goes out to the Adelson family.”

— Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., said on Twitter: “Sheldon Adelson lived a true American life. Born from humble beginnings he achieved extraordinary things. He was a defender of America, a champion of Israel & a friend. His good deeds & legacy will continue to shape the lives of millions.”

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and Matt Brooks, executive director of the coalition, said in a joint statement: “We have lost one of the most consequential figures in American Jewish history: an American patriot, a dedicated defender of Israel, an extraordinary philanthropist, and a dear mentor and friend.

“The Republican Jewish Coalition benefited not only from Mr. Adelson’s generous financial support, but very significantly from his leadership and his counsel. His friendship, encouragement, and wisdom will be sorely missed. His death leaves an empty place where a vibrant, committed, and caring man once stood. We are all diminished by his passing.”

Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party said in a statement: “We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson was a brilliant businessman, a dedicated philanthropist, a patriot, and a great Nevadan. His generosity and kindness was impressive and much appreciated by those that he helped. His life story and legacy are truly that of the American dream and he will be sorely missed in our community. We send our deepest condolences to Dr. Miriam Adelson and the entire Adelson family during this devastating time of loss.“

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Twitter: “Sheldon Adelson was a remarkable American. Starting as a paper boy in Boston he rose to become one of the richest men in the world. With his wife Miriam he invested heavily in fighting drug addiction and funding medical research. He was an extraordinarily important Republican donor. Sheldon was a very good friend to Callista and me. He never forgot where he came from and he wanted an America where others could also have a chance to rise. He was also enormously important in helping Israel. He will be deeply missed.”

Josh Holmes, former chief of staff and campaign manager to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said on Twitter: “It’s impossible to fully capture what a titan Sheldon Adelson was in every aspect of life. He was a genuine Horacio Alger story who pioneered his industry and changed Las Vegas. He was as selfless and philanthropic as anyone I’ve ever met. He was a hero.”

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said in an email: “Today’s passing of Sheldon Adelson is a tremendous loss to the gaming community. Mr. Adelson, founder and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, was a true visionary and pioneer of modern casino gaming for more than three decades. From Las Vegas and Pennsylvania to Macao and Singapore, his mark is indelible.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Adelson for more than 15 years, long before joining the American Gaming Association (AGA). It is his leadership and generosity that stand out the most to me. There’s no greater example of this than serving his community and prioritizing his employees’ well-being during the last year as our country and industry grappled with the global pandemic.

“On behalf of the AGA, I share our deepest sympathies with Dr. Adelson, the Adelson family, and our gaming colleagues at Las Vegas Sands. May his memory be a blessing.”

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, said in a statement: “Sheldon was the perfect example of the American success story. The son of a taxi driver in Boston, Sheldon became one of the world’s most successful men through hard work and good ideas. He was a stalwart defender of freedom and a champion for Israel. He was a friend and I will miss him.”

John T. Moran Jr., chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, said in a text: “As a young attorney I remember watching Sheldon as he built his incredible empire in Las Vegas. He was a visionary and became one of the solid and important foundational blocks of the gaming industry. He always took care of his employees and recognized they were the important backbone of his gaming business.

“He was a wonderful leader in gaming but also the community he loved. He will be sorely missed in these troubling difficult times.”

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said in a text: “Sheldon was a visionary entrepreneur and played a pivotal role, as both a customer and then as a resort developer, in establishing Las Vegas as the preeminent convention and meeting destination in the world. He also saw the promise of what a premiere stadium would mean to this city and was the driving force behind that project. On behalf of the LVCVA, I wish to express my deepest sympathies to Dr. Adelson, their children and grandchildren, and to the entire Las Vegas Sands family.”

Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Sheldon Adelson, an industry icon, dedicated philanthropist and extraordinary entrepreneur who shaped Las Vegas into the No. 1 tradeshow and convention destination it is today.

“Mr. Adelson’s leadership, tenacity and business acumen have been evident since his first business opportunity at the age of 12, and the gaming industry, here in Nevada and throughout Asia, has benefited from his exceptional vision and commitment to success. From his pioneering work in creating COMDEX, the world’s largest trade show for the computer industry, to his industry-leading innovations in developing integrated resorts, Mr. Adelson will be remembered as one of our industry’s great minds.

“Mr. Adelson leaves a mighty legacy through his innumerable charitable contributions and the work of the Adelson Family Foundation which have changed the course of untold lives through his extensive support of Jewish causes, advancing educational possibilities and groundbreaking medical research. Many nonprofit organizations around the world have lost a true friend and champion.

“Our thoughts are with Dr. Miriam Adelson, his children and family, many friends and the entire Las Vegas Sands Corp. team during this difficult time.”

Derek Stevens, owner of three downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos, said in a text: “This is a sad day for Las Vegas. Mr. Adelson brought so much innovation and capital to Las Vegas. He personally kept LVS afloat after 9-11 and created so many jobs in our valley. His leadership will be missed.”

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said in a statement: “I’m sad to hear the news of Sheldon Adelson’s passing, and we at CTA send our condolences to his family. We have lost a legend.

“Sheldon was an exceptional businessman and a passionate patriot – a U.S. immigrant with a remarkable success story. He created and grew the largest tradeshow of its era, COMDEX. Sheldon loved our country and fought for the principles he believed in.

“We met 40 years ago, working together on a project in Las Vegas – a 120,000-square foot building we together donated to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to accommodate the growing CES® and ever-expanding COMDEX. That experience made a lasting impression on me. After Sheldon bought the Sands Hotel and turned it into the massive Sands Expo and Venetian Resort, we strengthened our relationship as CES continued to grow and fill his properties. As a former tradeshow owner and producer, Sheldon understood our needs and was honorable, tough and fair in his dealings.

“We were friends and rivals. We were business partners and competitors. Throughout it all, I admired Sheldon’s brilliant vision and ability to get the best deal possible for his company. His businesses did everything they could to help trade shows thrive.

“A rags to riches legend and a strong personality who transformed trade shows, the Las Vegas skyline and the Las Vegas experience, Sheldon’s impact will last a long time.”

Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM, said in an email: “Sheldon Adelson helped shape the modern era of gaming and hospitality in Las Vegas, Asia and around the world. His vision and innovations defined what was possible and helped make Las Vegas, Macau and other cities the iconic destinations they are today. The trade show and convention industry and the modern luxury resort all bear Sheldon’s fingerprints and cement his legacy as among the greatest entrepreneurs in the history of our industry. A philanthropic giant, his deep generosity and innumerable contributions had a tremendous impact in Las Vegas and around the world.

“The people of MGM Resorts offer our sincerest condolences to Dr. Adelson, the Adelson family and the team at Las Vegas Sands.”

Mary Beth Sewald, president and CEO of the Vegas Chamber, said in a statement: “No one shaped modern day Las Vegas more than Sheldon Adelson. From transforming the convention industry and creating two of Las Vegas’ most iconic resorts, to becoming an international leader in sustainability practices and supporter of the men and women who have served our country in the military, he leaves a legacy that few, if any, will ever match.”

Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars Entertainment Inc. board member and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board member, said in an email: “Sheldon was truly a giant among men! He had vision, strength, determination and was a driving force behind making the city of Las Vegas one of the most vibrant convention and hospitality destinations in the world. All of us in the gaming industry owe a debt of gratitude to Sheldon for seeing, believing and and helping to build our community. His leadership and generosity will be greatly missed.”

— Jim Murren, former chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International and an appointee to lead a task force to coordinate private-sector support for the COVID-19 pandemic, said in an email: “Sheldon Adelson was an iconic fixture in Las Vegas. He came from humble beginnings, forcefully working his way to become one of America’s most successful businessmen. Sheldon was complicated, a study in contrasts. He was tough and pugnacious yet conversely he could be kind and philanthropic. His imprint on Las Vegas, Macao and Singapore will be eternal, and his legacy assured as one of the hospitality industry’s pioneers.”

Keith Smith, president and CEO of Boyd Gaming Corp., said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson was a tremendously successful business leader, and the impact he had on our city and our industry will be felt for a long time to come. More important, however, was Sheldon’s lifelong commitment to giving back to others, and the powerful example he set with his philanthropy. We join the entire southern Nevada community in remembering Sheldon, and our thoughts and prayers are with Miriam, his family, and the Las Vegas Sands team at this time.”

— Marilyn Spiegel, president of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore and vice chair of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, opened Tuesday’s board meeting with a moment of silence to honor Adelson and said: “I think it’s only appropriate prior to beginning the agenda of this meeting for us to take a moment and recognize the passing of Sheldon Adelson this morning. Sheldon was a visionary entrepreneur who came to our city in the late ’80s with an idea of what could be and had the fortitude to build it. I think we can all agree that our city and our state is such a better place because of Sheldon Adelson.”

Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Inc., said in a statement: “Sheldon Adelson was a visionary who undeniably shaped our industry. From championing the nascent convention business, which has become one of the pillars of Las Vegas as we know it today, to being the first to develop resort-style gaming in Macau, the impact of Adelson’s entrepreneurial vision and ambition is indelible. It may have been matched only by his commitment to his family and community. We are grateful for the legacy he left behind, and our hearts are with his team at Las Vegas Sands, and his friends and family.”

Gary Carano, Executive Chairman of Caesars Entertainment Inc.’s board of directors, said in a statement: “There are but few men like Sheldon Adelson in this world. Few have the tenacity and the opportunity to shape industries and communities. Sheldon had those in spades. A Las Vegas visionary, an international business magnate, and a passionate philanthropist, Sheldon leaves a legacy of determination, acuity, and generosity. His impact in Nevada and around the world will reverberate for years to come. On behalf of all of us at Caesars Entertainment, my thoughts are with Dr. Adelson and the entire Adelson family.”

Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, CEO and vice chairman of Red Rock Resorts Inc., respectively, said in a joint statement: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our good friend Sheldon Adelson. Through his entrepreneurial spirit and vision, Sheldon helped inspire and transform Las Vegas into the world class destination it is today.

“Sheldon was and will always be a legend in the gaming industry. Not only did he build incredible resorts for the enjoyment of his guests, he unequivocally set the bar when it came to taking care of his team members. He recognized that a property is only as good as its team.

“He will also be remembered for his many great philanthropic efforts here in Las Vegas, throughout the county and around the world.

“We send our condolences and sympathies to Sheldon’s wife Miriam, the Adelson family and the entire Las Vegas Sands team on their loss.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Peter G. Johnson at [email protected] or 702-383-0249. Follow @petergjohnson1 on Twitter.

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