George Scott Menke
George Scott Menke, visionary developer, veteran gaming executive, philanthropist, co-founder and Chief Executive Office of Paragon Gaming, passed away suddenly on October 12 at his Las Vegas home. He was 55 years old.
Born on December 18, 1964 in Glendale, Arizona, Mr. Menke graduated from Glendale High School before attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; pledging Kappa Sigma fraternity and beginning his hospitality career as an intern at his uncle William Bennett's Circus Circus Las Vegas hotel and casino.
The experience ignited his passion for the industry, and, notably, his learned approach to guest satisfaction and the hospitality experience.
Upon graduating from UNLV's acclaimed hotel college (now the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality) in 1987, Mr. Menke earned his first management role at the newly-opened Colorado Belle resort in Laughlin, Nevada; and served in a similar capacity at the neighboring Edgewater Laughlin.
Through the tutelage of Mr. Bennett, Mr. Menke continued his rise in the industry as an executive team member of the Circus Circus Enterprises, oversaw development of both the Excalibur and Luxor properties and the eventual structured acquisition of Las Vegas' famed Sahara Hotel and Casino with Mr. Bennett's Gordon Gaming Corporation. This tenure alongside Mr. Bennett strengthened his relationship with his cousin and future business partner, Diana Bennett.
In 2000, Mr. Menke and Ms. Bennett teamed to launch Paragon Gaming, a developer and operator of world-class gaming destinations. Drawing on the lessons learned working under Mr. Bennett, Mr. Menke sought to bring "an owner's mentality" to his role as a manager.
With their combined experience, Mr. Menke and Ms. Bennett successfully guided Paragon's early efforts to acquire and revitalize distressed hotel and casino properties in California, Nevada, and Canada. In 2006, the company achieved its largest success at that time with the development and opening of the $180 million River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta. Paragon's reputation for successful turnarounds of distressed properties led to further acquisitions and operation agreements with Las Vegas' Riviera Hotel and Casino, Westgate, and OYO Casino and Hotel, as well as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe, and the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Paragon's accomplishments in Canada inspired Mr. Menke to conceive Parq Vancouver, an international entertainment destination located in the heart of downtown Vancouver's entertainment district. Built to meet LEED Gold Standards and anchored by Canada's first JW Marriott hotel and a first-to-market Autograph Collection Hotel, the DOUGLAS, Parq Vancouver opened to acclaim in September 2017.
Mr. Menke dedicated much of his life to philanthropy, serving as a member of the nonprofit UNLV Foundation, and supporting the Nevada Children's Heart Association and Boys Town Nevada. In 2016, Boys Town Nevada honored Mr. Menke with the HOPE Award in recognition of his service, commitment and dedication to making a difference in the lives of children, youth and families.
Mr. Menke is survived by his father, George; mother Linda and her husband Ted Christy; his siblings Kimberly Menke, Jennifer and husband Gabriel Castle, Brittany Menke and Jordan Menke; and his nieces and nephews Jack, Tatum, Chase, and Gabriel. He will be forever remembered by his aunts, Vicki Resch and Katherine Eastman and numerous special cousins. Mr. Menke also leaves behind his beloved dog, Gracie. He will be missed and was loved by uncountable others.
A graveside service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday October 20, 2020 at Resthaven Park Cemetery, 6450 W. Northern Ave., Glendale, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation on behalf of George Scott Menke to Children's Heart Association of Nevada www.chfn.org
. Please visit www.menkefuneralhome.com
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