In a town and an era in which women often were second-class citizens, Florence Lee Jones was a true Las Vegas leader and pioneer. Born in 1910, Jones was raised in Missouri where she earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri in 1933. She soon moved to southern Nevada to join her family, including brothers Cliff and Herb Jones, who worked on Hoover Dam and went on to lengthy political and legal careers.
Jones became a reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, starting out with a racy trial involving a dam worker suing builders and the Union Pacific Railroad. For twenty years, she covered virtually every major news story in Las Vegas, and she helped start the local Junior Chamber of Commerce or Jaycees and Service League, now the Junior League, a leading women's organization. She also began secretly dating her boss, managing editor John Cahlan. They married in 1940, but she continued to use her surname, Jones, in print.
In 1953, she left the Review-Journal due to health problems, but handled free-lance projects and worked as a political consultant. In 1963, after her husband's departure from the paper, editor Bob Brown asked Jones to come back as society writer. For the next twenty years, her Sunday columns combined events and history, detailing the activities of longtime Las Vegans. She expanded her historical coverage in a two-volume work written with her husband and commissioned by the Las Vegas Valley Water District, entitled Water: A History of Las Vegas.
Jones is also known for her extensive notes and writings on Las Vegas that are located in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas library, and at the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society, where she served as the first woman member of the Nevada State Museum Board of Trustees. The museum's Florence Lee Jones Reading Room was named for her after her death in 1985.
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