By Candice Wiener
It’s not every day that an average local Las Vegas native is invited to sit down for lunch with the well-respected Senator Richard Bryan. However, being that there is history between my late Grandfather and him, he politely obliged and generously offered some missing pieces to the puzzle of the Wiener history. Louis Wiener Jr. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His family moved out here in the 1930’s and had a tailor shop off of Main Street, if I am not mistaken.
Louis Wiener, or “Poppa Lou” as us grandchildren called him, was a self-motivated and ambitious man. He attended college at the University of Reno before going to law school at University of California at Berkeley, and passed the Nevada State Bar in 1941. Louis Wiener Jr. was a remarkable man that greatly impacted the Las Vegas community, and although he didn’t sing praises of his contributions to our city, others did and still do so till this day.
Having been one of the very few bona-fide criminal defense attorneys here in town since the 1940’s was just one of his magnificent achievements throughout his life. In addition to represented such notable clients as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Howard Hughes, Redd Foxx, Frank Sinatra, and Kirk Kerkorian, Louis Wiener was also the longest tenured attorney in all of Southern Nevada, having practiced law in Las Vegas from 1941 to the time of his retirement and passing in 1996. He was also an integral part of Sunbelt Broadcasting, the parent company of Channel 3, which he owned.
Seemingly fit, I find it ironic to find myself in the Publishing and Media sector here in Las Vegas 31 years after Sunbelt Broadcasting was founded. Louis Wiener served on the Board of Directors for the Nevada Law Foundation, Boys’ Town, the Andre Agassi Foundation, and UNLV. He also provided countless philanthropic support for these foundations, as well as many other local businesses throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
The grandfather I remember was very gentle, generous, kind, and loving. He was full of wisdom and compassion for not just our family, but for the community in its entirety. Very well respected throughout Las Vegas, I can recall a time in high school when I arrived late to my 4th period math class (I usually did since this class was right after lunch).
I recollect walking into class and quietly over to my desk. When the substitute teacher called me out and instructed me to go over to the tardy sheet and sign in, I thought to myself, our normal math teacher doesn’t ever usually make me sign in. Reluctantly, I complied and signed my name to the tardy sheet. It’s not like one tardy mark for the year was going to tarnish to my transcripts.
Then the substitute teacher began to introduce himself to the class. When he had finished, he proceeded to walk over to the teacher’s desk and review the tardy sheet. Seeing my last name as Wiener, he called me up to his desk and asked me if Louis Wiener was my father.
“No, he’s my grandfather,” I said. He replied, “Well, would you believe that? Your grandfather just so happened to help me get started and funded my legal career back in the days when I used to practice law. Let’s just erase your name right off of that tardy list.”
It was at that point that I realized how much Louis Weiner had done for the community and just how broad his impact was. This reaffirmed my passion for our community and renewed my pride in everything he had done to help shape Southern Nevada and Las Vegas. I intrinsically knew at a very young age that he was a positive male role model in my life, and the lives of so many more, and that he was genuinely a phenomenal leader and pioneer in the Las Vegas community.
Louis Wiener, Jr. was owner of many local businesses and partner in many more, such as Davis Funeral Homes; one of my all-time favorites, the Alpine Village Inn; and the breakfast spot that was where the main focus of our family solidarity came from, the Omelet House on Charleston and Rancho (an all-time hidden gem if you’ve never been there). That was where I would sit and soak up not just sports betting talk, but also the various conversations of our city and mob culture. With conversations about how Bugsy Siegel preferred to (and not to) be addressed, as well as learning that Red Fox was the first African-American to walk through the front doors of a Las Vegas Casino, I was both fascinated and immersed in the history and notoriety of Vegas history to say the least.
With my grandfather’s many attributes to the local community, it was only natural that his legacy and name become part of his long-standing footprint on our community. Far beyond what he ever imagined, UNLV dedicated the name of their practice soccer field after him, as well as the UNLV Legal Law Library. And it was no coincidence when the family received the invite to the reveal of Louis Wiener, Jr. Elementary School, which happens to be located close to one of his beloved friends, Battista Locatelli.
Subsequently, I have committed to running a series of “The Native Juice” stories each and every issue, introducing you to other notable families that have helped shaped Las Vegas into the city that we live in and love today. This inaugural issue is a tribute to the 10.01.17 tragedy, and dedicated to the Vegas Golden Knights who truly rode on the heels of that catastrophic event, that is still so fresh in our minds, to bring the community together and bring renewed Vegas pride. But additionally, I would like to dedicate this issue to my late Grandfather, Louis Wiener, Jr., who inspired me to give more than I take and be grateful for my blessings, and who taught by example how to achieve success while funding other locals’ business opportunities and supporting our Real local community by giving back, and educating Las Vegas locals on just what it means to be the Real source of local information and history – the Real influencers of the Vegas valley, both past and present. We hope you enjoy following and learning tidbits of information that have previously only available to some of the smaller local families that helped build and shape our city! Stay tuned for more interesting details encompassed with “The Native Juice”.
Real Vegas magazine is THE ONLY local magazine that is brought to you by locals, for locals, and will proudly provide you with relevant content within the pages of each issue. We are looking to interview Vegas families that have generations of born and raised locals from the grandchildren’s perspective. If you have any notable Las Vegas families that you would like to nominate for possible inclusion in an upcoming series article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also very receptive and open to any feedback or suggestions, so please always feel free to reach out to us!