It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the sudden passing of George Scott Menke, my cousin and a beloved member of our family, co-founder of Paragon Gaming, philanthropist and a visionary developer who served the Las Vegas community for more than 30 years," Diana Bennett, daughter of the late resort magnate William Bennett, said in a statement.
No other details about the cause and manner of Menke’s death are immediately available.
Diana Bennett co-founded Paragon Gaming with Menke and the two worked closely together for decades, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
"This is a painful, inconceivable loss, and our family respectfully asks for privacy at this time," Bennett added.
Menke and Bennett created Paragon Gaming in 2000. Over the years, the company would operate casinos at Riviera, Westgate and Hooters Hotel in Las Vegas. Paragon also operated Hard Rock Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Edgewater in Vancouver, British Columbia; and in 2017 developed Parq Vancouver and operated that property through February 2019.
Menke earned a hospitality degree from UNLV and interned for Circus Circus Enterprises, under William Bennett’s tutelage. Early in his career he worked in management at Colorado Belle and neighboring Edgewater in Laughlin. He oversaw the development of Excalibur and Luxor on the Strip, and also worked on Bennett’s acquisition of the Sahara, prior to founding Paragon.
Known for his philanthropic spirit, Menke was a member of the UNLV Foundation, supporter of the Nevada Children’s Heart Association, and has been honored for his support of Boys Town Nevada.
Menke once recalled his days interning at Bennett’s Circus Circus, telling the publication BC Business in Vancouver that he worked every job on the property that did not provide tips.
"My family wanted to make sure that I wasn’t making any money and was sticking by the rules." He worked the front desk, housekeeping, accounting and the casino cage.
Menke was born in Glendale, Arizona. His father owned a funeral home. He remembered, "I was always very driven I would steal flowers out of the funeral home and sell them on the corner on Friday afternoon. Since I was 10 years old, I wanted to be out of Glendale, Arizona, doing something."