Marilyn Gubler: A Cowgirl’s Tale in the Heart of the Southwest

In the heart of the desert Southwest, where the wind whispers through the Joshua trees and the mountains stand jagged and proud, a remarkable woman has found her own slice of cowboy heaven. Marilyn Gubler, a Nevada native with a passion for the rugged charm of the Old West, has traded the hustle and bustle of politics for a life in the saddle on her 160-acre Sandy Valley Ranch.

Marilyn Gubler - The Boss Lady

A Western Spirit at Heart

Born in 1944, the same year Las Vegas had a mere 10,000 residents, Marilyn grew up in a very different Sin City. Cattle once roamed the streets, and she and her friends would occasionally trot to school on horseback. Her parents, Maxwell and Laura Belle Kelch, were pioneers in their own right, transforming Las Vegas into a thriving tourist destination.

Maxwell, a towering man at 6-foot-4, had always dreamt of running his own radio station. Alongside Laura Belle, a Cincinnati-born watercolor artist and community advocate, they launched KENO radio in 1936, helping shape the city’s identity. Las Vegas was a town with a can-do attitude, and Marilyn inherited that spirit.

From Politics to Ranch Life

Marilyn’s journey led her into the world of politics, where she made her mark as a tough-minded political consultant and the first female chairman of the Nevada Republican party. Her wit and tenacity made her a force to be reckoned with. Even when she was forced out of her position by Senator Paul Laxalt in 1984, Marilyn fought back with a “I Got the Boot” party, overshadowing his own celebration.

She consulted for politicians from both sides of the aisle, always picking the dark horse and helping them succeed. Her sense of humor remained intact, as she once cleverly quipped that her client wasn’t indicted yet when others were facing charges.

The Cowboy Life Beckons

After a career in politics, Marilyn sold her five-acre Roadrunner Ranch and sought a new adventure. A fateful invitation led her to Sandy Valley, an hour outside Vegas, where she discovered a vast expanse of undeveloped land. The allure of this untouched desert landscape was irresistible.

On her Ranch, Marilyn’s passion project took root. Initially envisioned as a working dude ranch and corporate retreat, it quickly grew into a haven for tourists seeking a taste of the Cowboy Life. The ranch hosted corporate events for major companies like Microsoft, Nike France, and Louis Vuitton, all eager to experience the Western way of life.

Embracing Mexican Rodeo

In recent years, Marilyn expanded the ranch’s horizons by embracing Mexican rodeo, known as charreria. This unexpected love affair led her to host up to 10 rodeo events a year on her ranch. Initially puzzled by this well-heeled white ranch owner with a passion for their culture, the local Latino cowboys now affectionately call her the “Boss Lady.”

Marilyn’s daughter, Laura Dahl, aptly describes her as a strong woman who has always held her own, whether in politics or on the ranch. Her ability to connect with people from all walks of life and her relentless pursuit of what she loves set her apart.

The Second Chance Ranch

Marilyn’s ranch is aptly named the “Second Chance Ranch,” where she offers promising cowboys opportunities despite their questionable pasts. Her commitment to the rodeo events, especially the all-female Escaramuza, highlights her reverence for the rich cultural heritage and the sheer beauty of the skill on display.

At 75, Marilyn shows no signs of slowing down. She splits her time between her Summerlin home and the ranch, constantly in motion, with more energy than people half her age. Her husband, Tommy DiGiacomo, marvels at her boundless enthusiasm and daily planner, which he needs to keep up with her ever-active schedule.

In the quiet desert expanse of Sandy Valley, where Marilyn Gubler now sits in the big saddle, her story is a testament to the enduring spirit of the West, where a woman with a twang in her DNA can reinvent herself and embrace a life-rich in adventure and cultural appreciation.

Marilyn and Laura

The Boss Lady’s Legacy

As the sun sets over the Joshua trees and the mountains, Marilyn Gubler, the Boss Lady of Sandy Valley, remains a beacon of determination and grit. Her journey from Nevada politics to the heart of the desert Southwest is a testament to the power of reinvention, the love of the land, and the enduring allure of the Cowboy Life.

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