Astoria is mourning the loss of one of the neighborhood’s most beloved figures.
World War II veteran Luke Gasparre, who went on to become an usher for the New York Mets when Shea Stadium opened in 1964, died Thursday morning at the age of 95.
“Luke Gasparre was a friend to everyone in Astoria,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “”He shared his love of the Mets, public service, and his community with every person he encountered. We will miss Luke’s warm presence and constant smile. I was proud to induct him into the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and was even prouder to call him my friend.”
At the young age of 18, Gasparre trained to become a soldier and was assigned to the 87th Infantry Division that was tasked with breaking through the German lines. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which was the highest casualty operation by the end of World War II.
“At one point he was in combat for five straight months,” Astoria civic leader Antonio Meloni said during a ceremony honoring Gasparre in 2014.
Following the war, Gasparre returned to Astoria having earned seven medals including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He worked for the postal service for 34 years and to make ends meet he took a job as an usher for the Mets for 55 years, the most ever in the Mets organization.
“Luke held a special place in our Mets family. He served as an usher for parts of six decades and was a decorated World War II veteran who wore his Purple Heart and Bronze Star on his usher’s uniform,” the Mets said in a statement. “So many of our fans knew him as he always welcomed everyone with open arms and a friendly conversation. He will be missed by many and we send our heartfelt condolences to all his family and friends.”
Gasparre was also a ticket taker and usher at the U.S. Open for more than 40 years. He became the longtime leader of the Tamiment Democratic Club and various other civic groups.
Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., who represented Astoria for more than three decades, put Gasparre on the City Planning Commission “because of his brilliant mind,” and Gasparre was a longtime member of Community Board 1.
He was married to his late wife, Madeline, for 66 years and they had a family of three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation will take place at Drago Funeral Home at 43-10 30th Ave. on Saturday, Feb.15, from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 17, from 4 to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church — located at 43-19 30th Ave. — at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
“Luke Gasparre was a community treasure. I will remember him best for his warmth, generosity and strong commitment to his community,” Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said. “Whether chatting with him when the Mets where playing at home or dancing with him at community functions, Luke had a way of making me smile. Our community will miss him. I will miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.”