He was larger in life to many people who knew him, but for the family and friends of Virgil Getto, he was known as a down-to-earth man who left a legacy to his community.
Getto, 90, a former state assemblyman and state senator, died Nov. 6 after a lengthy illness. A Celebration of Life was conducted Friday at The Gardens Chapel prior to a Mass of the Resurrection at St. Patrick’s Church.
It was noted that everyday across the world, communities lose a cherished piece of history. For those who spoke, Getto left more than a footprint on the Nevada political scene during his 24 years of service as a lawmaker.
Mike Getto, the oldest of four children, said his father instilled enough qualities that would last anyone a lifetime. One of those traits focused on hard work. He said his first job on the Getto ranch as a 10-year-old was milking cows and feeding the other animals, but he remembers his father telling him “you can’t play until after the work is done.”
Yet, there were those times for play when father and son would leave Fallon and go either bird or deer hunting.
Andrea Caldwell, the oldest daughter, said in her father’s final stages of life, he seemed to be like Lazarus as he tried to rise. She also said her father had nine lives after surviving car accidents, serious infections and falls.
As for life, Caldwell said her father brought the best out in people.
“He inspired himself and others around him, “she said. “I managed to listen to him. He was right, and I was better off.”
Caldwell said she became involved in 4-H and public speaking in high school, and her father showed her what hard work was like.
“The time spent with us inspired lifelong lessons,” Caldwell said.
Not only did her father inspire his children, but Caldwell said he also was inspirational in helping others in public life such as selling property and donating proceeds to Western Nevada College.
“Dad left behind a legacy,” she said.
Marlea McKinstry said she was always proud of her father and all he did for others.
“He could be tough on us, but in life we realized the value of the lessons,” she said, adding that those lessons made her and her siblings strong, independent and resilient.
McKinstry said her father, who was born in Fallon in 1924, felt a profound connection to his Italian heritage.
Granddaughter Darcy Carpenter said she enjoyed growing up on the ranch and participating in 4-H. She recollected advice given to her not to become attached to her animals. When sale day came, though, she did not want to depart with her lamb.
“In order to keep the lamb, she said her grandfather paid twice as much for it as the next person so she could keep it.
A moving video tribute reflected on Virgil Getto’s life and songs of Nevada moved the guests to sit in remembrance of how the Silver State captured the essence of the Fallon rancher. Others also spoke, telling of the contributions Virgil Getto made or how he was a helpful neighbor who gave away his vegetables.
Retired WNC Dean Bus Scharmann told of the lawmaker’s involvement in establishing a WNC campus in Fallon and the trips they took together to Carson City to advisory meetings.
“He is one of the great people I have had the privilege of knowing,” he said.
Former Assemblyman John Carpenter of Elko traveled five hours to attend the service. He said Getto was his mentor.
Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. then focused on Virgil Getto’s commitment to his fellow man:
“What struck me with Virgil he was always committing service not only for the state but to this community.”
Tedford discussed his friend’s legacy and how it has now become part of his children to dedicate themselves to helping others.
“He kept giving and that’s what keeps a legacy going,” Tedford added.