BI-PARTISAN SUPPORT — More than 100 people came to honor former Assemblywoman Vivian Freeman's legacy at WashoeDEMS headquarters on January 18, including (standing from left) longtime activist and celebration co-chair Mylan Hawkins, former State Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Reno, top gun attorney Margo Piscevich, and former Washoe County Assessor and Truckee Meadows Democratic Alliance Chairman Bob McGowan, D. Seated (l to r) artist Renate Neumann, top gun attorney Peter Chase Neumann and former Nevada Lt. Governor Sue Wagner, R. 


RENO, Nev. (12-5-2013) — Former Nevada Assemblymember and hospital trustee Vivian Freeman died this morning at her home in Reno. She was 86 years old.

She successfully underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2011 and passed away due to complications from a stroke she suffered on Nov. 26. In accordance with her wishes, she asked that all treatment be stopped so that she could return home where she died at 11:00 a.m. PST (19:00 ZULU/GMT) on Thursday, Dec. 5.

She was a 53-year resident of Reno, having moved here with her husband, Richard O. Freeman, in 1960. They were married in 1951. The popular Dick Freeman was both her lifelong partner and campaign manager. He died on the eve of election day, 2002.

A Democrat, she served in the Nevada State Assembly representing northwest Reno from 1986 to 2002. A registered nurse, she was elected to the Washoe Medical Center (now called Renown) board of trustees, serving from 1982 to 1986.

She was co-founder of the hospital's pregnancy center.

In the legislature, she championed womens' rights, mining reclamation and family resource centers in public schools. She served on the Glenn Duncan Elementary School Family Focus Center. During her legislative tenure, she chaired both the Health and Human Services Committee and the Natural Resources, Agriculture & Mining Committee. She served on the Assembly Government Affairs Committee all 16 years and added the Assembly Taxation Committee in her final two terms.

She was instrumental in placing Question 7 on the 1990 general election ballot. On 6 Nov. 1990, Nevada voters overwhelmingly ratified the establishment of a woman's right to choose in Nevada law. (Nevada Revised Statutes 442.250)

Mrs. Freeman chaired the Anne Martin Women's Political Caucus, was appointed to the Reno Commission on the Status of Women and served on the Washoe County Parks Foundation. She was a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and the Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society.

At tonight's Democratic Party of Washoe County Annual Virginia Demmler Memorial Dinner at Reno's Grand Sierra Resort, Assemblymember Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, remembered Vivian as a role model who inspired her. She currently holds the seat in the reconfigured version of Mrs. Freeman's longtime district. The remarks came as Mrs. Benitez-Thompson took the podium with three other honorees. Mrs. Freeman was a Demmler award winner in 2003. (Her fellow award winners that year were Assemblymember Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, longtime party activist Doug Smith and the evening's keynote speaker, below.)

Former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Richard Bryan, D-Nev., served as emcee. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Searchlight, delivered the keynote address before several hundred attendees.

Earlier this week, longtime activist and Freeman associate Mylan Hawkins noted Freeman's push for recycling.

"Vivian was always a champion and fighter for all the causes from kids and women, to education, healthcare and the environment. Vivian is the recycle lady and stood with us on the frontlines of the Equal Rights Amendment and Question 7. She was modest. She worked alone. She moved mountains and hardly anyone ever even really paid notice. In her quiet way she changed our state. Despite ourselves and because of her we moved from the Mississippi of the West to becoming a better place," Hawkins said.

The American Association of Retired Persons named her woman of the year in 1990. Environmental Leadership honored her with its Environmentalist of the Year Pine Cone Award in 1989. The Truckee Meadows Human Services Consortium named her "Politician of the Year" in 1991. She was named Woman of Distinction for Environment by the Soroptimists in 1991 and the Nevada Wildlife Federation honored her as Legislative Conservationist of the Year in 1993.

Her last hurrah came in a run for Reno City Council in 2006.

She was born Vivian Lois Ruff on August 18, 1927, in Ashton Idaho, daughter of Raymond A. and Julia G. Ruff. She was raised on a farm in Springfield, Idaho, and graduated from high school in Aberdeen. Idaho.

She began training as a nurse at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake City in 1945 and completed her education in the U.S. Army Cadet Nurse Corps in the spring of 1948, all before she turned 21. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Utah and worked as a registered nurse in several states.

She is survived by a daughter, Mitzi Watters (Tom) of Sparks, brother Raymond Ruff of Aloha, Ore., sister Grace Dye of Medford, Ore., a son, Paul, of Reno and one grandchild.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Her family has asked that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to Planned Parenthood.

UPDATE: CELEBRATION OF LIFE SATURDAY JAN. 18, 2014—>Bring food and memories


Freeman's distinguished career included Nevada's first mining reclamation law
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 12-12-2013

Gov. Sandoval remembers his former legislative colleague: "Gov. Brian Sandoval, who served with Freeman in the Legislature, said in a statement Friday that he was saddened to hear of her passing. 'Vivian was a friend, a fierce advocate for her constituents and was always fighting to protect natural resources and the environment,' Sandoval said. 'I had great respect for her and she will be missed.' " — Associated Press / Las Vegas Review-Journal 12-6-2013

Longtime Nevada Lawmaker Freeman Dead at 86: KOLO TV-8 (ABC-Reno) 12-5-2013



Nevada State Assembly, 1986-2002

Chair, Health and Human Services Committee
Chair, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Mining Committee
Government Affairs Committee — direct responsibility for city/county legislation

Washoe Medical Center, publicly elected trustee, 1982-86

Co-Founder, Washoe Medical Center Pregnancy Center, 1985


EDUCATION — Bachelor of Science, Nursing, University of Utah

PROFESSION — Registered Nurse, retired

PERSONAL — Reno resident 53 years; mother of two; one grandchild; married 51 years to Dick Freeman who passed away in 2002.


Celebration of life Saturday 18 Jan. 2014 at Washoe Democratic HQ

Bring a dish and a story to share and join us in celebrating the life of Assemblywoman Vivian Freeman

Date: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Time: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. PST
Place: Democratic Party Headquarters
1465 Terminal Way
Reno, NV 89502

For additional information or questions, please call Mylan Hawkins at (775) 857-8777 or Martha Gould at (775) 747-0777.

You may or bring a printout of your remembrance to the event. If you cannot attend, please send memories (video or text) of Vivian via e-mail to .

Mrs. Freeman's family thanks all those who have expressed their respects through so many kind words and deeds.

Details will be updated as the date nears. Thank you. —AB

Willie Puchert's Vivian Freeman Celebration of Life Facebook Page

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