Getting ready to say goodbye
With the approval by shareholders of a merger agreement between Harveys Casino Resorts and Colony Capital, Inc., descendants of founder Harvey Gross who have remained active on the board of directors are looking down the road for what’s next.
They have a few months to decide. Gaming regulators in Nevada, Colorado and Iowa must take a look at the $420 million agreement, with approval expected by the end of the year.
Although the family members were pleased with shareholder approval of the merger, they also expressed mixed emotions about the change in their lives that will result.
“It’s truly going to be hard to drive to Tahoe and see the building and not be part of it,” said Jessica Ledbetter, Gross’ granddaughter and owner of the Thunderbird Ranch in the Carson Valley.
Ledbetter began her working years busing tables and parking cars at Harveys. As director of planning, before leaving the company in 1986, she helped plan Harveys newest hotel tower, “which I’m very proud of,” she said, although she also expressed relief that there would be fewer meetings to attend.
Her brother, Kirk Ledbetter, has remained with the company and now works as Harveys’ director of community services and governmental affairs.
Before the merger is final “I have time to look into the future,” he said. “It’s exciting to think about other business ventures. I’ll remain part of the Lake Tahoe area. My past is here and my future is here.”
Although of retirement age, William Ledbetter, Gross’ son-in-law and Kirk and Jessica’s father, will keep his office at Harveys until he turns 80 in another 12 years, he said. From there, he’ll remain active in the community and oversee the construction of his East Shore house, Wovoka.
Richard Kudrna, Sr., another son-in-law of Harvey Gross, folded many towels in the laundry of Harveys Inn before becoming part of the corporate structure. After many years on the board of directors, he plans to retire.
“After all the hard work, I’m ready to relax and enjoy some of the benefits,” he said.
Harveys Chief Executive Officer Chuck Scharer attributed the strength of Harveys to the family members.
The Ledbetters and the Kudrnas “put together a great platform for this company,” he said.
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