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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Longtime Gaming Executive George Stillings Dies

30 December 2004

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- George Stillings, a longtime Southern Nevada gaming executive and a founding stockholder of Boyd Gaming Corp., was remembered Tuesday as someone who paved the way for his adopted hometown's current success in the corporate era.

He died Sunday in Henderson at 85.

Stillings retired in 1990 when Las Vegas was in the early stages of becoming today's Wall Street-backed international playground with megaresorts on the Strip.

"George was involved in the startup of the California Hotel and Casino, serving as its first controller," said longtime colleague Bill Boyd, who is Boyd Gaming's chairman and chief executive officer. "The success of that property is what allowed us to eventually develop Sam's Town and the many other properties that are now part of Boyd Gaming."

From humble beginnings in downtown Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming became the nation's fifth-largest gaming company when in July it acquired Coast Casinos in a $1.3 billion deal.

Daughter Robin Stillings Raiford said Tuesday her father was thrilled when the company's stock topped $41 per share early last week.

"The last time I talked to my father (on Dec. 22), we talked about Boyd," she said.

Stillings Raiford said her father's spirits dampened in recent weeks by the deaths of three of his siblings, as well as a 27-year-old grandson who was killed in Colorado after being struck by a driver police suspect was intoxicated.

Stillings was born in Underwood, N.D., in April 1919. He served in the Navy during World War II. In the early '60s, he moved to Las Vegas to work at the Stardust, and was named manager of the Stardust in '63. Stillings moved to the Desert Inn, where he worked as chief financial officer when Howard Hughes bought the now-demolished Strip icon in March 1967.

Stillings last job was executive vice president of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado.

Stillings' wife of 52 years, Jean, died in January 2001. The couple is survived by son George Stillings Jr. of Henderson; daughters Nancy Hart of Sacramento, Calif., and Stillings Raiford of Irving, Texas; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation was Tuesday, with services and burial to occur in Oceanside, Calif.