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Harry Reid was born and raised in Searchlight, Nevada, the youngest of Harry and Inez Reid's four sons. Searchlight is a rural mining town, where Reid's father was a hardrock miner. His father had an eighth grade education, and his mother never completed high school. Reid grew up in a small cabin without indoor plumbing, and attended a school that employed one teacher for eight grade levels. He attended Basic High School in Henderson, because there was no high school in Searchlight. He boarded with local families in Henderson, so he could be near the school. At Basic High, he met Landra Gould, who became his high-school sweetheart. In 1959, two years after they had graduated from Basic, Harry and Landra were married. They have a daughter, Lana, and four sons, Rory, Leif, Josh, and Key.
After high school, some Henderson businessmen helped to finance a college education for Harry Reid. He also obtained scholarships, and his wife Landra left college to work, so he could attend school. In 1961, Reid graduated from Utah State University. He then earned a law degree from George Washington University. It was at Utah State that Harry and Landra Reid joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after receiving many years of teaching and example from Church members. During his years as a law student, Reid worked nights as a U.S. Capitol police officer. After law school, the Reid family returned to Henderson, where Reid became the city attorney. He was then elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1968, at age 28. He became the youngest Lieutenant Governor in Nevada history, elected when he was 30 years old. He then was appointed Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission in 1977. He engaged in private law practice for a few years, and then was elected in 1982 to the first of two terms in the United States House of Representatives.
Elected to the Senate in 1986, he has developed a reputation as a consensus builder and a skillful legislator. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said, “We all respect Senator Reid. He is one of the moderate voices around here who tries to get things to work.” In 1998, he was chosen by his colleagues to serve as the Assistant Democratic Leader, also known as the “Whip.” After he won a fourth term in 2004 by a wide margin, he was unanimously elected Senate Democratic Leader. He is the first Mormon to serve as majority leader and is the highest ranking elected Mormon in American History. In spite of his success, he still calls Searchlight his home and lives there with his family, when he is not in Washington.
Reid says of his Church membership:
Our blessings are many. We have five children and soon will have twelve grandchildren. All five of our children have attended BYU, and all have been married in the temple. Each child has been a positive example for us. After these many years I believe that the Church has been a steady, positive blueprint for my life. Without the direction of the Church, I would have been without a compass.