Obituary: John J. Gaspar

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NAUGATUCK — The American Flag has been lowered and the Naugatuck Fire Headquarters have been draped with ceremonial bunting to honor the memory of retired Fire Chief John J. Gaspar.

John J. Gaspar, 88, died on Friday, June 21, 2019 at St. Mary’s Hospital with his loving family by his side.

John was born on Sept. 28, 1930 in Pawcatuck, R.I., to the late Joao and Louisa (Caetano) Gaspar. In 1995, John was predeceased by his wife of 40 years, Patricia (Dunn) Gaspar and in 1996, lost his only son, John J. Gaspar Jr. Those left to cherish his memory are his four daughters, Jeanne Kalvaitis (Paul), Barbara D’Angelo (Bob), Tricia Gaspar (Dave Murphy), Nancy Gaspar; his 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, who adoringly called him Superman. In addition he leaves behind his sister, Norma DiMichele; his beloved sisters-in-law, Helen Dunn and Sister Grace Marie, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and lifelong friends. His sister, Tillie Mariotti also predeceased him.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, John returned to Naugatuck to begin his life of dedication to the citizens of the Borough. In 1954, John’s desire to help people led him to his career in firefighting. He began as a volunteer and moved up the ranks to be named fire chief in 1976. Chief, as he was affectionately called, retired in 1988 after 34 years of service; his last 12 years as chief of the department. Following retirement from 1990 through 1996, John diligently served at the state Capitol as the legislative representative for the Connecticut State Firemen’s Association, representing the Firemen’s Association, the Connecticut Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Connecticut Fire Marshals’ Association, the Connecticut Emergency Medical Services Association, the Connecticut Fire Training Officers’ Association and the Fire Prevention and Control Commission. He tirelessly worked and lobbied for legislative initiatives that supported and protected all; including passage of the bill for our state’s enhanced 911 system.

In 2014, the Connecticut State Firefighters Association inducted Chief Gaspar into its Hall of Fame, recognizing him as a firefighter who served above and beyond the normal expectations over an extended period, demonstrated leadership, and was a motivating force for the betterment of fire service throughout the state and country. Throughout his distinguished career, Chief Gaspar was a member of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association (president), a member of the Connecticut Fire Chiefs’ Association, serving as president (1987), first vice president (1986), second vice president (1985); a charter member of the Connecticut Career Fire Chiefs Association, a member of the Waterbury Area Chiefs’ Association; a lifetime member of the New England Fire Chiefs’ Association; and a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Additionally, John was a 53-year member of the Naugatuck B.P.O. Elks, Lodge 967 and a lifetime member and avid supporter of Clube Uniao Portuguesa in Naugatuck.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 10 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., Naugatuck. Everyone attending is kindly asked to please meet at church. Burial with military honors and with Naugatuck Fire Department honors will follow in St. James Cemetery, Cross Street, Naugatuck. Calling hours are Friday, July 5, 2019 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., Naugatuck. Members of the Naugatuck Veterans Council will assemble at the funeral home Friday at 6:30 p.m. and the Naugatuck Elks Ritual will be Friday at 6:45 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, Chief Gaspar’s daughters request that donations to honor his memory be made to The James P. and Debra Fitzgerald Healy Foundation (a scholarship foundation honoring his recently deceased nephew, Jim) at www.healyfoundation.org or P.O. Box 844, Naugatuck, CT 06770, or to the VITAS Innovative Hospice Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, 56 Franklin St., Waterbury, CT 06706.

To leave an online condolence, visit www.buckmillerthurstonmengacci.com.