It was late one night in March 1992 when the phone rang and it was my father in law, obviously intoxicated, and very excited. He kept saying over and over, " Bea won the house, Bea won the house!!" John Ascuaga's had a contest, Come Home with John Ascuaga and in the final big spin of the wheel, their number came up and they won a brand new, still under construction, 4 bed room, 2 1/2 bath, two story home near the Convention Center and Atlantis. That part of Reno was not even developed in those days, and what was an old cattle ranch behind them is now the Sam's Club shopping center.
What made the story even better; these folks were just a good hard working, loving couple. My father in law, a Marine combat veteran from the Pacific theater retired from the Army Depot in Sacramento and he and Bea spent several years traveling around working in the resort towns of California, Arizona and Nevada. They had settled in a single wide mobile home in north Reno, and Vic went to work at Harrah's. Between the two, they had eight children, so visits to the single wide had to be timed just right. Overnight they became famous in the biggest little city in the world. The house was fabulous and just right for the folks and their extended family. I asked Vic later if he was really as intoxicated as he sounded and he said "oh yeah, I figured we wouldn't win the house, so I was going to drink all of John's booze!!" A good Marine, with a plan!! But he sobered up real fast that night when a man came up to him and introduced himself as the representative of the Internal Revenue Service. Vic said "what the heck, I won't owe any taxes until next April" "Oh no came the reply, because of the value, you will owe the estimated by June 1st" Vic said he became sober as a judge. It all worked out, John was happy that he had given the house to a Harrah's employee and such a nice couple, the bank was happy to lend them all they needed for the taxes and enough extra for all new furnishings, a deck and patio and decor.
John Ascuaga's ran the contest for about six years and some winners went thru the value in just a few months and others kept theirs for a short period of time. Bea and Vic stayed in the home for the last 20 years and watched south Reno grow up around them. They loved the house and were always grateful for John giving them the opportunity they would only have dreamed. Bea passed away last month in the home that she loved so much and that provided her and Vic and the family with so many happy memories. Thank you, John.