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Verna R. Harrah

1944 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
Verna R. Harrah Obituary
Verna R. Harrah

July 25, 1944

June, 29, 2012

Verna Harrah was born in Nampa, Idaho on July 25, 1944. She married casino icon, Bill Harrah, in 1974.

Verna founded and served as the CEO of Middle Fork Productions, naming her company after a place she loved, the middle fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, where she and Bill Harrah had married. Verna loved making movies. She produced Anaconda for Columbia Pictures which became one of the top 25 grossing films of 1997. This was followed by Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid; Vacuums; the teen comedy Who's Your Daddy and The Canyon. She also produced Good Rockin Tonight, a musical documentary about the famous Sun Records recording label, that aired on PBS's "American Masters" and the hit stage musical, Reefer Madness that played off Broadway.

Verna Harrah was a woman of great courage, genuine compassion for others, and extraordinary generosity. She also had a deep commitment to justice. Above all, she had an indomitable spirit and a remarkable capacity to fight against adversity - driven by her optimism about the possibility of achieving good outcomes. She believed in tomorrow.

These values were expressed in her generous philanthropy.

In the 1980s, Verna helped establish The Rape Foundation and served on its Board of Directors for over two decades. She created the Rape Treatment Center's Verna Harrah Clinic at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center which transformed emergency medical care and forensic services for rape victims and sexually abused children. The Verna Harrah Clinic set a new standard and became a model for the nation. She gave a generous gift to TERI to establish a culinary program, named in her honor, on The Campus of Life, an international model for empowering individuals with special needs to lead lives of purpose and fulfillment. She also supported several medical research projects at UCLA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center, and Scripps Research Institute.

Verna was instrumental in getting the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV named after her husband.

Verna co-financed and collaborated with the United States Information Agency, (USIA) to bring together in a series of round table discussions, government officials and a select group of private citizens from the Soviet Union and the United States during the Brezhnev/Gorbachev period. The mission was to reach a wider understanding between the two cultures through art, music, dance, and the building of personal friendships.

Verna is survived by her children, Richard (Julie) Harrah and Samantha (Eric) Coghlan, and her beloved grandchildren: Avery, Wyatt, Ozzy, and Cash. A memorial service is pending.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on July 8, 2012
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