Bertha B. Ronzone

On November 5th 1969, founder and owner of the Ronzone’s chain of department stores that date back to the 1910s, Bertha B. ‘Mom’ Ronzone, passed away at the age of 84 years.

Born Bertha Bishop in 1885 in Iowa, Bertha married her husband, Attilio Ronzone, in 1901.  They moved to Nevada two years later and lived in Tonopah and Goldfield, as they followed the mining boom, finally settling in Manhattan.  Bertha started a hand-laundry for the miners, but realized that they lacked access to new clothing, and that was why she believed a department store could be a success.  Borrowing money from businessman George Wingfield, she established a store in Manhattan in 1917, relocating it to Tonopah six years later. There were also stores in Silver Peak and Beatty. Once the plans for Boulder Dam were made public, though, the family moved to Las Vegas opening a store in November 1929 selling women’s and children wear this time.

The first store was located just off Main St. at the rear of the Golden Nugget downtown, and there were several moves around downtown as business continued to expand. In 1968 the family opened another store on Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas in the new and modern Boulevard Mall.  With another store acquired earlier in Reno, Bertha went on to become the leader of the largest privately-owned merchandising enterprise in Nevada.

Yet Bertha always had time for the Las Vegas community and her church.  She was selected as “Nevada’s Golden Rule Pioneer Mother” in May, 1959, had a elementary school named after her in 1966, and in 1967 she was named a “Distinguished Nevadan”, one of the highest honors the state can give, as well as “Mother of the Year” by the Women’s Guild of the Church of Religious Science.

Bertha continued working with the stores until her death in 1969.