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Helen Wiemer always wanted to be in charge. Didn’t matter what she was in charge of, she just knew she’d be in charge. After a decades-spanning career in retail management, Wiemer has the ultimate in-charge job: she runs the Governor’s Mansion.
And she does it well. Nonprofit groups from around the state use the mansion for hundreds of events a year, morning, noon, and night. Wiemer has served as mansion coordinator for many of the past 20 years. “Governor Bob Miller and his wife Sandy were my first administration,” she says, having spent eight years with them.
She worked for four years under Governor Kenny Guinn, then left to work for the Community Counseling Center. When Governor Gibbons arrived, Wiemer received a request to return to the mansion. “I loved it at CCC, but I was told I belong at the mansion,” she says.
Regardless of which party is in power, Wiemer says the staff is non-political. “I choose to be completely non-partisan,” she says. “When the administration changes, I never mention the previous administration. Whatever happens here stays here.”
The Governor’s Mansion typically falls under the leadership of the First Lady, but Wiemer says if the governor gives an order, she complies. “Both the Governor and the First Lady are great to work for,” she says. Wiemer is quick to point out that the mansion belongs to the people of Nevada. “It doesn’t matter who they vote for, they’re all taxpayers here.”
Weimer says one of her favorite mansion perks is the many letters children send her following a visit. One boy wrote to tell her even though she was stupid to live in a place with a ghost in a clock; he still wished she could be his grandmother. Another girl wanted to know if she and the governor used the same toilet. For the curious reader—no, they don’t.
Born in England, Wiemer came to the United States in 1958, living first in New York, and then moving to Hollywood. She married her husband of 51 years after working for him at a department store. “I was shocked when he called and asked me out. He never said a word to me while I worked for him,” she laughs.
Painfully shy as a child, Wiemer recalls the exact moment she overcame her shyness. She and her husband went to a meeting at the Air Force base in Riverside, Calif., to see about getting a rocket for a display at the shopping center they managed. “We walked into the room and there were no women there. He said, ‘throw back your head and enjoy this.’ And I did.”
It is how Wiemer has lived her life, especially at the mansion. Pride of ownership is evident as she bustles about, dealing with myriad details. “How long will I keep working?” she says. “Until I drop. I will never retire. As long as I have my mouth, my eyes and my hands I’m fine.”
The mansion celebrated its centennial in September.