John H. O. La Gatta
President, Olds & Company, Incorporated
Chairman, Catamount Fund
John LaGatta’s memory is baffling. He can tell you in great detail about a particular financial transaction he did while working on Wall Street in the 1970’s. He will entertain you with stories of the parties his parents had with Nelson Eddy and Normal Rockwell in the 1940’s. He also remembers the name of his high school Latin teacher.
What’s equally baffling is John’s intellect.
He has an inquisitive mind that continually searches for answers to problems, and he remains focused until he has resolution.
He may have learned this tenacity from his father, a well known illustrator and painter by the same name who left New York for California to make a career change right before World War II started. The timing of the war forced him to adapt to a new economy, but his success showed that he adapted quite well. No doubt that “adapt or die” attitude has helped John H. O. La Gatta achieve his own success.
To really tell the story of John H. O. La Gatta, you have to start with the story of his parents, John and Florence.
The La Gattas lived in Sands Point, New York, a community of 50 homes on Long Island. There were two groups of people that lived there: the very rich (like Guggenheim, Lehman and Harriman) and the artists (like John Phillip Souza and La Gatta). At the time John’s father was an illustrator for advertisements and editorial pages for the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and other magazines, and was quite successful, though he longed to be a painter of fine art. They lived a life of luxury and fame in New York, but La Gatta was tiring of his commute and the cold Long Island winters, so he and his wife Florence moved the family to Santa Monica where he had planned to mostly paint fine art When the war broke out, magazine work grew slim (especially as photography replaced illustrations), so he had little choice now but to paint for a living as well as for love. They decided to stay in California where his success rivaled that of New York, and John H. O. La Gatta grew up in a home full of art, music and celebrities. (The life of the La Gattas is chronicled in a book called “John La Gatta, an Artist’s Life,” and is really a fascinating read.)
John H. O. La Gatta attended elementary school in Santa Monica and then to the University of California, Berkeley where he majored in economics and was one of 11 members of the College Republicans. When a professor started approving of Walter Reuther’s quest for “guaranteed annual wage increases,” John lobbied for “guaranteed annual grade point increases.” (Now we see where his propensity towards politics began.)
He dabbled in graduate work, but decided to go into the real world instead and moved to New York City to start his financial career at Hornblower & Weeks, in 1962. He moved to Istel Lepercq & Co. from 1963-1970. In 1970 he founded Olds Securities Corporation, and other entities, and still runs Olds & Company, Incorporated. (Olds was his mother’s maiden name.)
He moved to San Francisco in 1990 for three reasons: a daughter at Cal, a son in boarding school in the Bay Area, and an ex-wife in Manhattan.
When a sizable real estate deal meant a large payout (and a large capital gain tax payment to California), John decided to move to Nevada. He visited Las Vegas, but it was not quite his style. A friend told him of Reno and he moved here in 1996. And boy does he love it.
John may have only lived in Northern Nevada for 15 years, but his commitment to his adopted state mirrors that of a life-long native. Economic development and educational reforms are his focus, and he has spent countless hours developing plans that will help Northern Nevada attract new business and improve our educational system. He understands that Nevada’s accessible location, attractive tax environment, and quality outdoor and indoor entertainment make the area an ideal location for any business, but he’s especially interested in attracting the financial/corporate sector (what he calls the intangibles), as it can generate substantial public and private revenues.
John understands that attracting “high paying” jobs will take an educated work force, so much of his focus for the past few years has been reforming education and helping create the state’s Education Reform Blue Ribbon Task Force.
He founded the Catamount Fund in 1997, and funded such concepts as a pilot project with the Waterford Institute and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada to bring technology to the young and disadvantaged children. In 1998, John wrote a white paper entitled, “Nevada Economic Diversification,” Nevada Should Focus on Expanding Its Financial/Corporate Sector to Generate Substantive Public and Private Revenues. The last revision was made in May 2007, and it is the basis for much of his policy work now.
He has served as a foundation trustee for the Desert Research Institute, and on the boards of the Nevada Museum of Art, Sage Ridge School and the Mariposa Academy.
His commitment to improving our quality of life in Nevada earned him the honor of “Citizen of the Year” by the Sparks Chamber this last January.
We are grateful for the time, money, and energy John puts into helping improve education and diversify our economy. Nevada is a better place because of John H. O. La Gatta.
LA GATTA, JOHN HAWLEY OLDS
B. Sands Point, N.Y., June 10, 1934,
S. John and Florence Eugenia (Olds) La Gatta, A.B. U. Calif., 1956;
Children—Alexandra and John II. Single
With Hornblower & Weeks, NYC 1962; Istel Lepercq & Co., NYC, 1963-1970;
Founder, Pres. Olds Securities Corporation, NYC,
Founder, Pres. Olds & Company, Incorporated, NYC, 1970 (called C.H. Olds & Company, Incorporated in NV);
Founder, Pres. Olds Properties Corporation, NYC, 1986—also Pres. Various Corps., ventures and partnerships in transactions with major corps.
California Club (Los Angeles); Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club (Oyster Bay, NY); Prospector’s Club (Reno, NV)
Past and/or Current Boards:
Nevada Museum of Art; Desert Research Institute Foundation University of Nevada, Reno; Sage Ridge School, State Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners
Offices: 50 West Liberty Street, Suite 1080, Reno, NV 89501
Home – 725 California Avenue, Reno, NV