Luke Gasparre, a recipient of Purple Heart and Bronze Star who served on the Ardennes Offensive, died at 95 a.m. on Thursday morning.
He was also the longest serving usher in Mets history.
Gasparre, a retired postal worker who lived in Astoria, Queens, took a second job as an usher at Shea Stadium when the baseball field opened in 1964. The Army veteran became an integral part of the games for the next 55 years and worked in section 109 of the United States' old stadium before moving to section 310 at Citi Field. Across the street, he played a similar role during the US Open.
"He would see the same people in the same department all the time and they would become more than friends," said grandson Jeff Greenberg.
“He liked to be part of the Mets community. It was a staple. He had been there since the doors opened. He saw everything Mets-oriented, but the greatest high point in this part of his life was seeing the Pope at Shea Stadium. "
Gasparre, one of seven children, grew up in Yorkville on Manhattan's Upper East Side before moving to Queens in 1937. There Gasparre, a talented tap dancer, became friends with a talented singer who was two years younger: Tony Bennett.
"Tony would sing and [Gasparre] would type, ”said Greenberg.
Gasparre was drafted into the army at the age of 18 and served in the 87th Infantry Division in Europe to liberate the French city of Metz. During World War II, Gasparre was shot in his right hand and also separated from his unit before it was discovered by American soldiers.
Gasparre received seven medals for his service, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, which were later attached to his usher uniform. Gasparre then worked for the post office for 34 years and was married to his late wife Madeline for 66 years. He built a family that should include three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
"He was a loving man," said Greenberg. "He had a very good life, surrounded by people who loved him."
"Luke had a special place in our Mets family," said the team said in a statement, "He served as a usher for six decades and was an excellent World War II veteran who wore his purple heart and bronze star on his usher's uniform.
“So many of our fans knew him because he always greeted everyone with open arms and a friendly conversation. He will be missed by many and we extend our deepest condolences to all of his family and friends. "