What was intended to be a short trip by Phyllis to visit a sister in Las Vegas turned into a half of a century journey that built legacies which few if anyone will ever match in the transportation industry and the philanthropic field.
When Phyllis’ husband Charlie arrived in May 1958 to drive his bride back to San Antonio, something about Las Vegas caught their fancy causing them to pause and ponder their fate. As Phyllis would later recall, the safe bet was to return to the security of family and friends. With nothing more than the clothes in their bags, they decided in true Las Vegas tradition that their destiny should be decided by a flip of a coin: “heads we go, tails we stay.” As generations of Southern Nevadans would later appreciate, fate was on Las Vegas’ side that day and the coin landed tails side up.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get”
Always a hard worker and desiring to supplement their income,
Charlie joined a union and was immediately advised there was an
opening for a taxicab driver. On October 31, 1961 Charlie began
driving a cab on the first shift for a small company that at the time
had under 20 employees.
Not long after that inauspicious start, Phyllis and Charlie purchased that cab company and began to build Nevada’s largest transportation company. A legacy that would eventually include a combined workforce of over 2,500 employees among five taxicab companies as well as a limousine company and an airport shuttle company. The transportation company would fuel the lifeblood of the Las Vegas tourism economy by providing safe and efficient transportation experiences.
Grateful for the successes Las Vegas provided them and resolute in their belief that all children regardless of background should be afforded the opportunity for a quality education, the couple’s generosity enriched many Southern Nevadan’s lives. Many attended college who would not otherwise been able to do so, including the recipients of the Phyllis Frias Environmental Studies Scholarship at UNLV. Multitudes of high school students in Clark and Lincoln counties benefited from their generosity over the decades, whether it be by gifts of school buses, underwriting of trips to Washington, D.C. or sending each 5th grade graduating class at Frias Elementary, a school named in their honor in 2003, on an all-day expense paid field trip to Disneyland.
In addition, Charlie and Phyllis embraced several Southern Nevada civic, cultural and not for profit organizations with their charity. The Smith Center, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Shade Tree, Opportunity Village, and the Clark County Fire Department were just a few.
After Charlie passed away on October 24, 2006 Phyllis wrote the memoir Frias with Love in tribute to her husband. Phyllis defined the Frias legacy:
“God gave us tools and we did our best to use them wisely. As great a business man as Charlie was, I think what stood out as some of his best achievements, was the way Charlie would give back to our community. We love our town and still do. We’re proud of how far its come and honored to be a part of all its history.”
In addition to publishing her memoir, Phyllis created a multimillion-dollar memorial to Charlie that embodied the spirit of the Frias family and tradition: A COWBOY’S DREAM BED AND BREAKFAST and WINDMILL RIDGE, cradled south of the majestic Nevada Sierras in the town of Alamo, Lincoln County, Nevada.