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Walter Gaspar was born on April 4,1888, one of a pair of twin boys, in the family home on upper West Avenue, in Waukesha Wisconsin. As he grew up, his father, Frederick, was city clerk and secretary of the school Board. It was during these public meetings that the young Walter became interested in city government. It was about this time that eleven year old Walter met seven year old Antoinette Marie Kuehn.Twenty-one years later that they were married. In April 1909, Walter started work for a street paving company, working as a finisher on curbs and gutters.
Near the end of 1909 the company moved to Dallas Texas, where he was promoted to foreman. He found little satisfaction in his job, so on the 31st of May 1910, he was sworn in the United States Navy as an Apprentice Seaman. Walter's twin brother, Wallace, died in July 1911. Upon Walter's return home for the services, his family persuaded him to leave the Navy and return home, where he was now desperately needed. For the next few years he worked at the same company in the same position his brother had held. October 1914, Walter packed his bags and traveled to Milwaukee where he enlisted in the Marine Corps. One of his first assignments was in Washington D.C. aboard the U.S.S. Mayflower, the Presidential Yacht. A year later he was transferred to the U.S.S. Texas, one of the largest battleships of its time.
June 6, 1917, war was declared between the United States and Germany. Gunnery Sergeant Gaspar soon found himself on a convoy headed for France. He was involved in many bloody campaigns. Many of his fellow countrymen were killed or wounded. In September 1918, Sergeant Gaspar was promoted to First Lieutenant and received his second Silver Star medal. The following year, September 1919, Walter returned to the United States and married his childhood sweetheart.
For the next twelve years, the now Captain Gaspar, saw duty in the Dominican Republic, China, and Guam, and served as a recruiter back in the states. On August 14,1931, Captain Gaspar was transferred to Nicaragua, where he took command of the District of San Refael. During this tour, most of his duties involved patrolling the mountains around the small town of 200, searching for the local bands of bandits. In March, a courier was sent out with the company's mail, but the runner was later captured and killed by bandits. Word reached the United States (and Mrs. Gaspar) that mail belonging to Captain Gaspar was found on the bodies of several American Marines killed by insurgents. Antoinette Gaspar learned the next day that her husband was alive and well, and not dead as reported in the newspapers.
In 1941, and for most of World War II, Gaspar served as Commander of the Marines at Moffett Field. In May 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. At the conclusion of the war, the military services were retiring many of the career officers, Gaspar included.
In February 1946, William Emig resigned as Sheriff after being convicted of gambling conspiracy charges. The same day Emig was convicted, February 2, Gaspar was sworn in as the twentieth Sheriff of Santa Clara County. The Sheriff's Office was considerably smaller in 1946, consisting of only 28 personnel. Their fleet of vehicles consisted of four cars; One car for the Sheriff, one for the Under-Sheriff, and two were used as patrol cars. One two-man car was assigned to the northern portion of the county, and the other two-man car to the south. Because two way car radios didn't exist in 1946, and if an emergency call was received, it was not uncommon to find the Sheriff or Under-Sheriff answering the call.
Gaspar didn't run for re-election and left office in January 1947. Sheriff Gaspar didn't stay out of the political scene for long. Later that same year, he was elected as councilman for the City of Palo Alto. In 1948 his fellow council members elected him Mayor, a position he held until 1941. In 1952 he was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, retiring in 1957.
At the age of 93, Walter Scott Gaspar died of Leukemia at his home in Palo Alto.
The San Jose Mercury, February 19,1982.
The San Jose Mercury, January 4,1955.
The San Jose Mercury Herald News, February 3,1946.
Gaspar, Walter Scott, A brief sketch of the life and experiences of Walter Scott Gaspar, undated.