Cover photo for Philip Roger Hevener's Obituary
1943 Philip 2023

Philip Roger Hevener

February 1, 1943 — March 7, 2023

Las Vegas, Nv

Philip Hevener 1943 — 2023

Philip Roger Hevener, retired Las Vegas newspaper reporter, writer and longtime gaming columnist, died March 7 at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas after complications from many health issues in recent  years. He turned 80 on Feb. 1.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 10, at 2:30 p.m. at Las Vegas Cremations, 5555 W. Charleston Blvd. Chaplain Joe Hyatt of Nathan Adelson Hospice will officiate.

Hevener was born in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb. 1, 1943. A survivor of childhood polio, he grew up in Texas and Florida, graduating from Sarasota’s Riverview High School in 1961 before going on to the University of Florida for four years. While there, he was editor and columnist for the student newspaper, Florida Alligator, and a member of the men’s glee club. Those years nurtured a lifelong love affair with music and the guitar, singing along to his favorite songs.

He began his professional journalism career at the Sarasota Herald Tribune in the 1960s, then went on to the Gannett newspaper in Cocoa Beach, Florida Today, and then to The Houston Post in Texas, where he became known for crafting interesting stories about the people of Houston as well as for his skill with breaking news stories. And he became a devout Houston Astros baseball fan.

One of those news stories was the death of eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, who was en route from his penthouse in Acapulco, Mexico, to Methodist Hospital in Houston when he died of renal failure in April 1976.

Years later Phil wrote: “I’ve worked in the newspaper and magazine business all my adult life and have been in Las Vegas over 44 years writing about the casino business, its personalities and myriad issues. Every once in a while I wonder what it would have been like to be an astronaut or maybe a freelance philosopher. Shortstop for the Chicago White Sox would also have been nice.

“I have sometimes told people that it was Howard Hughes who brought me to Las Vegas. That is true but not because Mr. Hughes knew anything about me. He and I did not begin to rub shoulders with each other (so to speak) until he had been dead for a couple of hours and I inherited the task of writing about him for the Houston Post, the paper I was working for at that time. His death and the litigation it spawned are what brought me to Las Vegas.

“I looked at the town during my numerous trips there and said, ‘Hey, this is an interesting place’ with the kind of colorful, sharp-edged personality that had attracted me to some of the most interesting people in my life. It has been fun, when it wasn't knocking me around. I wrote a mystery novel a few years ago, an experience that taught me the importance of having a competent publisher on my side. And life continues to go on one day at a time.”

That suspense novel was “The Las Vegas Solution,” published in 2006.

Hevener worked as a reporter and gaming columnist for the Las Vegas Sun for a number of years and became known and respected by movers and shakers in the city. He wrote about resort owners and operators, casino workers, entertainers, real estate developers and more. He was known and respected for his boundless curiosity, keen wit and smooth writing style.

He also was co-owner and publisher of a new magazine, Las Vegas Style, which lasted from 1992 to 2004 before ending publication. The other co-owner, Larry Wayne Hall, passed in 2011.

The end of the magazine did not stop Hevener’s desire to tell stories about the city he grew to love, and he continued to write for several other publications including Gaming & Wagering Business Magazine and was a regular columnist for Gaming Today. And as a gaming analyst and longtime observer of the Las Vegas scene, Hevener often was quoted by out-of-town journalists and newscasters.

Somewhere along the line, Phil acquired the nickname “Speedy.” Always warm and engaging, he laughed easily and was a loving husband, father and friend.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Esther Lodge Hevener; daughter Suzette Banasik; grandson Patrick Banasik, all of Las Vegas; and sister Laura Elvgren of Sarasota, Florida. He was preceded in death by daughter Lori Banasik of Las Vegas and parents James K. Hevener of Houston, Texas, and Mary Wolcott Namey of Sarasota.

Those wishing to honor Phil are encouraged to make a donation in his memory to Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or to the Alzheimer’s Association or to a charity of their choice.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Philip Roger Hevener, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Starts at 2:30 pm (Eastern time)

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