The last surviving member of a pioneer Southern Nevada family, Lenore Perkins Cook Clay, age 98, has joined her husband and her family wherever the afterworld is. She passed December 20, 2017 in her Las Vegas home. She was the last of Ute V and Lovina Ellen Whitney Perkins’ 12 children. Born in May of 1919 in Overton, Nevada, she was reared as the baby of the family with eight brothers and three sisters. Her youngest brother Gerald died in infancy. She was a lifetime member of the LDS Church and served in every position a female could hold, including Relief Society president three times, once on the regional level. She also taught hundreds of Southern Nevada and several neighboring states’ teenagers to dance in the former MJA Program & Festivals.
Lenore always felt she was born in the ideal timeframe for her. She grew up in a loving, if sheltered, family and lived from the last of the horse & buggy days through some of the greatest changes the nation has ever seen. She often marveled at all the changes she saw in the world. She saw the building of Hoover Dam and the filling of Lake Mead. Her brother made a hydroplane and towed her behind his boat on the lake…before water skis even existed.
She graduated from Moapa Valley High School in 1937 and attended Dixie College, where she graduated in 1939. That same year she married her first husband, class mate Leonard (Shag) Cook. He died of cancer in 1957. In 1959 she married Lynn Geil who she met when they both worked at KLAS-TV. Lynn died of a heart attack in 1966.
Before the (Las Vegas) Convention Bureau existed, and prior to high-rise hotels, Lenore worked for the Chamber of Commerce, placing people in bedrooms of private homes on the busy weekends. As “Information Services” at the Chamber, she and two photographers did all the publicity for the entire area. The “Dudes,” as visitors were labeled, were very amusing and entertaining to her. One of her favorite stories was when a request came in asking, “Am I able to get over Day Light Pass in Death Valley at night?” She also worked at the Riviera Hotel in the sales department, where she met Neil Armstrong and other celebrities of the time.
The great love of Lenore’s life was Wayne Jackson Clay. They met in 1968 when he was en route to VietNam and temporarily stationed at Nellis AFB for “Wild Weasel” training. They were married that same year and Lenore accompanied him and his two sons to his new assignment in Naples, Italy where they lived for four years. They were sealed in the Swiss Temple in 1972. Their next assignment at Loring AFB in Northern Maine was Lenore’s least favorite assignment, where she has said the high temperature would sometimes get to only -20 degrees in the daytime. Throughout their time in Maine, they accepted positions within the church’s Halifax and New Brunswick Canada districts. They accepted one more assignment at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana before retiring in Las Vegas.
She loved the desert and was very surprised and happy to see the same type of desert growing beyond the Nile River in Egypt. As the wife of Colonel Clay and through their many postings she was afforded the opportunity to see much of the world and one time stood on the shores of the Black Sea near Russia.
After moving back to Las Vegas, Lenore was a favorable part in rearing, at a critical time, several of her grandchildren and cherished the time hosting family home evenings every week. When her grandchildren were older, she and Wayne moved to their beloved family ranch in Moapa where they gave their grandchildren lots of opportunities for adventure and learning the value of hard work. Lenore and Wayne remained very active, being instrumental in many civic activities of the Moapa Valley, as well as volunteering with the church and spending time with their family. She was a constant adventurer and traveled with many of her family members and her best friend and niece, Perk Overlade of Provo, Utah. Wayne passed away in 1990 and she has been anxiously waiting to make the long desired trip to see him again.
Lenore is survived by son Antone (Tony) Cook and daughter Patricia Ellen Cook Brown, both of Las Vegas, and step-sons Barrett Clay and Michael Clay. Her grandchildren include Ashly Cook, Ryan Cook, Chase Cook, Tracy Thornton Fernbacher, Travis Thornton, Terence Thornton, Rebecca Clay Jarrett, Vanessa Clay, Laurien Clay Scoville, Julianna Clay and Anya Adreya Clay. Her great grandchildren included Gavin Thornton, Thane Thornton, Heath Thornton, Brittany Cook, John Cook, Thornton Fernbacher, Jin Fernbacher, Jackson Thornton, Jillian Thornton, Stellan Jarrett, Kai Jarrett, Zane Jarrett, James Allen, Emily Allen, Rachel Allen (deceased), and Gabriel Scoville and Keralee Hatton.
Viewing will be on January 8, 2018 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with services at 11 a.m. at the Moapa LDS chapel, 1420 Barlow Avenue, Moapa, Nevada 89025. Celebration of life to follow.
Friends and family are invited to sign an online guestbook at www.moapavalleymortuary.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Lenore’s honor to the Ute V Perkins Elementary School in Moapa, Nevada.