History of Republican Women of Reno

RWR was founded in 1949 in Reno, and we are proud to be the longest functioning Republican Womens Club in Nevada.  Initially a chairman, vice-chairman, etc., were chosen from those present. The business of forming the organization was undertaken and Edna Coleville was elected their first president.  The group held monthly meetings through the balance of 1949 and into February of 1950. Then the Club was chartered under the National Federation of Republican Women in 1950.


  1. To promote an informed public through political education and activity.

Our club meetings are designed to keep our members and guests apprised as to the matters that we face every day and how to bring about better government in our state and country.

  1. To increase the effectiveness of women in the cause of good government.

We encourage our members to not just be listeners but to be involved–to put themselves on the front line. To run for office–to support other women who run for office.

  1. To support the objectives and policies of the Nevada and National Federation of Republican Women.

We are so fortunate to belong to both the state and national organizations where we have the tools and support to help us reach all of our goals.

  1. To work for the election of Republican nominees.

We are always kept aware of the Republican candidates who are running for office in our state and in our country. We learn of their positions. In our meetings we always feature Republican speakers.

  1. To foster loyalty to the Republican Party and to promote its principles.

The members are presented with all points of view. Where there are instances where two or more Republican run for one office, we follow a non-endorsement in primary campaigns or of presidential or vice presidential candidates prior to the Republican National Convention.

Why the Elephant?

The symbol of the Elephant for the Republican Party was created by Thomas Nast, a famous illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. In 1874, a rumor that animals had escaped from the zoo coincided with worries surrounding a possible third term for President Grant. Nast chose to represent the Republicans as elephants because elephants were clever, steadfast and controlled when calm, yet unmanageable when frightened.

Notable RWR Woman: Barbara Vucanovich

Notable RWR Woman: Barbara Vucanovich Barbara Farrell Vucanovich was the first woman to represent Nevada in the United States House of Representatives, in which she served from 1983 to 1997. Born June 22, 1921 in Camp Dix, N.J., Vucanovich was the daughter of Maj. Gen. Thomas Farrell, a noted U.S. Army figure during World War II who worked on the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb. Raised in New York, Vucanovich graduated from the Albany Academy for Girls and attended Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in New York. In the late 1940s, Vucanovich moved to Reno, where she met attorney Ken Dillon Sr. They married in 1950. The couple quickly became involved in Republican politics. After Dillon’s death in 1964, Vucanovich later married George Vucanovich, a native of Tonopah, who died in 1998. Vucanovich’s early political career is most closely associated with Senator Paul Laxalt. After Laxalt was elected to the Senate in 1974, she became his Northern Nevada district representative and served in that capacity until 1981. A staunch conservative, Vucanovich entered Congress in 1983 when Ronald Reagan was president and Nevada had two Republican senators, Paul Laxalt and Chic Hecht. When she retired in 1996, Bill Clinton was in the White House and Nevada was represented by Democrats Harry Reid and Richard Bryan in the Senate. Up until the 1982 election, Nevada had only one House seat. When the state was split into two congressional districts, she was elected to the one that included all but Las Vegas proper. For all but the last of her seven terms in office, Vucanovich served in the House minority. When Republicans captured the majority in the 1994 elections, she was elected to a position in the House leadership under new Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Among the bills she authored that became law were the source tax – to prevent other states from collecting taxes on the pension and retirement benefits of retirees, many of whom had moved to Nevada – and the repeal of the 55-mph speed limit. She supported equal treatment and pay for women and funding for early screening, detection, and treatment of breast cancer. Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei praised Vucanovich. “Barbara set the standard for effective public service with humility. Nevadans have never been better represented than when Barbara Vucanovich was their congresswoman.” Upon her death in June 2013 Gov. Brian Sandoval wrote, “With the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, Great Britain lost its Iron Lady and today the Silver State has lost its Silver Lady,” he said. “Barbara Vucanovich was the matriarch of her political generation.’’ “As the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress, Barbara helped to break the glass ceiling for Nevada women in the political world,” added Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. Vucanovich was a member of the Republican Women of Reno. She passed away on June 10, 2013. Honorary Members – Heidi and Steve Smith, Heidi is a Woman of Distinction. Not only did she serve two terms as RWR President, she was National President of NFRW, 2001 2002. Her husband Steve has always been a strong supporter of Heidi and her many contributions. They were named Honorary Members of Republican Women of Reno in 2016.