Category Archives: Las Vegas Consular Corps
The first Consulate ever established in Nevada was confirmed by exequatur of President Dwight Eisenhower in January, 1956. But even that early date was 12 years after Honorary Consul of the Principality of Monaco Henry Leigh Hunt had afforded the development of the Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas, named for his father, known as the first VIP of Las Vegas, Leigh S. J. Hunt.
The extremely low profile life of Henry Leigh Hunt kept his name from publication in Las Vegas until 40 years after his death, when I was appointed successor in his consular post. When I discovered the incredible life of Henry Leigh Hunt, I decided to prepare that legacy for publication, now in the works.
70 years old and closed for many years, the 900-seat Huntridge Theater has recently enjoyed the attention of preservationists interested in re-opening it as a flexible performing arts space. Successful downtown Las Vegas Entrepreneurs Joey Vanas, Michael Cornthwaite and Rehan Choudry contracted to purchase and renovate the property, and began a public campaign to raise the initial funds. My family and I decided to get involved as well, which columnist John Katsilometes kindly covered. The fundraising campaign hit its goal yesterday.
Recently I was invited to join the principals of the project to view the interior of the Theater, with the woman who ran it for decades, Edythe Katz, who was introduced to all of us by Las Vegan Tiger Todd, Founder and CEO of Hero School. The historic tour of Mrs. Katz was covered in the Press by Joe Schoenmann.
From Washington, D.C, Mrs. Katz and her late husband came to Las Vegas long before the civil rights movement, and were known for making the Huntridge the first racially de-segregated theater in Las Vegas. She was as quick-witted as ever as she sat and took in the surroundings which she had not seen in many years.
Much has been written about the run-down condition of the Theater, used as a furniture store warehouse for years. As Mrs. Katz pointed out, it isn’t pretty. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the updated (1995) steel beam roof system, insulation, ductwork plumbing and catwalk system. The last time I had been in the theater with proprietor Richard Lenz in 1991, none of this was yet constructed.
When Mr. and Mrs. Katz de-segregated the Huntridge Theater, they continued a long line of progressive thinking attached to that Structure. Namesake Leigh S. J. Hunt was the first white business partner of Booker T. Washington. Developer Henry Leigh Hunt was highly decorated by the French military in WWI for his service in the American Expeditionary Forces at the Second Battle of Marne, France, where Captain Hunt and the American Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry helped to hold the German Army from Paris.
“I remember when back in Washington, D.C. there were two water fountains – ‘white’ and ‘colored’,” Mrs. Katz told me, ” I thought the water was colored.”
Mrs. Katz told said she would like to be invited to the grand opening. I look forward to seeing her, and many others there.
The Honorable John Petkus, President of the Las Vegas Consular Corps and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland, has received the Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Awarded only to those who have “rendered great service to the Nation of Poland,” Consul Petkus wears the only such medal ever awarded a Las Vegan. This rare distinction places him among the elite of those diplomatic service in the world, and elevates his home city of Las Vegas and the State of Nevada in kind.
The entire Consular Corps congratulates Consul John Petkus for this much-deserved recognition. Well done, Sir!
Friday, April 19, 2013 — The Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland, John Petkus has been elected President of the Las Vegas Consular Corps. The motion was made by the Consul of Ireland and seconded by the Consul of Monaco. The motion carried unanimously.
After opening his consulate in December of 2009, Consul Petkus has been an active member of the Consular Corps from his first days in the post. He produced renowned cultural events including Chopin on the Rocks at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve in 2010. He co-produced Cocktails with the Consuls and Dine with Dignitaries events with the Consular Chamber, as well as the Fabulous Las Vegas fundraiser for the Liberace Foundation for the Creative and Performing arts, where he brought attention to the fact that Liberace was half Polish. His signature event is the sponsoring of a polish youth soccer team to come to Las Vegas every year to compete in the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup.
In February Consul Petkus spearheaded the opening of the Forbidden Art, an exhibit of artwork by prisoners of Auschwitz, during its first tour of the US. The Las Vegas exhibit was the only one in the US to feature the Director of Auschwitz, a guest of Consul Petkus. The event was recognized in a letter from President Obama.“We endeavor to become an integral part of the Cities and State that we serve in the pursuit of cultural, business and educational exchange between the countries we represent and our Consular Territory, Las Vegas and the State of Nevada.” – Consul John Petkus, President of the Las Vegas Consular Corps
With the recent retirement from active duty of the founding Dean of the Las Vegas Consular Corps, Honorary Consul General Gary Furlong, a new Dean has ascended by virtue of her seniority as measured by the date of exequatur (confirmation by the US Government). The members of the Las Vegas Consular Corps therefore congratulate the most senior ranking member, Honorary Consul of Chile Paulina Biggs Sparkuhl, the new Dean of the Las Vegas Consular Corps.
Confirmed in March of 2002, Consul Biggs Sparkuhl has also served on the Board of the World Federation of Consuls. She has resided in Las Vegas for thirty years.
As Consul Biggs Sparkuhl also occupied the position of President of the Corps, and she could not occupy both seats, a new President will also be elected. Consul General Emeritus Gary Furlong remains an active supporting member of the Las Vegas Consular Corps.
At the 3rd Cocktails with Consuls holiday party at Thriller Villa, which was hosted by the Consular Chamber of Commerce on December 15, 2012, Consular Chamber founder Jonathan Warren, Honorary Consul of the Principality of Monaco in Las Vegas, announced that the Las Vegas Consular Corps has officially formed.
Consul Warren harkened back to the roots of the Corps, remembering that the first consul of any country in Las Vegas was his predecessor, confirmed by exequatur of President Dwight Eisenhower for Captain Henry Leigh Hunt, Honorary Consul of Monaco, on January 30, 1956. HSH Prince Rainier III of Monaco appointed Captain Hunt to the Las Vegas post on December 30, 1955.
The modern incarnation of the Las Vegas Consular Corps serves to increase the number and influence of foreign missions serving Las Vegas. It welcomes all consular officers accredited to Las Vegas as voting members, while consuls who are not accredited to Las Vegas may join as affiliate members. Membership is free.
photography by Stephanie Masso and Willow Withy
Several members and officers of the Las Vegas Consular Corps also addressed the gathered crowd. The officers include Consul General Gary Furlong (Uzbekistan), Dean; Consul Paulina Biggs Sparkuhl (Chile), President; Consul Terry Murphy (Ireland), Vice-President; Consul Eric Auger (France), Secretary, and; Consul Beth Willis (Seychelles), Treasurer.
The audience present for the announcement was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of international society in Las Vegas. In addition to the consuls present, the group included State Senator Aaron D. Ford; Director of International Trade for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; other local government officials, the President and past officers of the Las Vegas World Affairs Council, international business people, board members of various chambers of commerce, artists and others. Attorneys Bruce Alverson and LeAnn Sanders of the law firm of Alverson, Taylor, Mortensen and Sanders, the firm which hosts both the Las Vegas Consular Corps and the Consular Chamber of Commerce, were joined by several others from the legal community.