Jasper's Story

Jasper's Life Events

Lived in Italy

Approx. 1933 - Approx. 1960

Gaspare Passalacqua Born

July 14, 1933

Born in Palermo, Sicily.

Jasper's First Memory

January 1935

He states his first memory is of when his paternal grandmother died, at a year and a half.

Worked on the Family Citrus Grove

Approx. 1938 - Approx. 1954

Jasper started watching the citrus grove at nights when he was 5 with his father to make sure that nobody stole the family's fruit. He started going street to street selling fruit from age 7. When his father got sick at age 9 he spent nearly all of his time on the grove. He would pick fruit for as long as the sun was out and then sell it to the townspeople. He worked on the grove until he joined the military

Elementary School

Approx. 1939 - Approx. 1944

School was impacted by World War II big time. Classrooms were occupied by soldiers because they needed somewhere to live. Mussolini called all men from 17-45. There were very few classrooms growing up. Each student had 2 ½ hours of school, 6 days a week. The students had to take turns for when they would get the class room. Jasper attended school 1st grade – 5th grade. War was over by the end of 5th grade. 3rd -5th grade had to wear uniform once a week every Wednesday because Mussolini requested it.

Joined the Military- Infantry

March 1955 - August 1956

Service in Italy is obligatory for any man. Jasper decided to join the Infantry as it required him to be in the military for the least amount of time.

Joined the Merchant Marines

December 1956 - February 1959

He decided to become part of the Merchant Marines which was where they traveled around the world with cargo and rich people. He worked with a Dutch company. At the time he was making 96,000 liras a month 579 liras = $1 back then. He worked for 26 months on the ship.

Arrived in Ellis Island, New York

June 1960

He came to America June 1960 and took a boat from Italy to New York. He was asked to change his name from Gaspare to Jasper. His mother’s brother (Uncle Frank) lived in Carlyle Illinois and knew that Jasper was coming. One of Jasper’s Aunts picked him up once he arrived in New York and got him on the train which he took from New York to Illinois where he met up with his uncle Frank.

Lived in the Mid-West

1961 - Approx. 1965

Jasper and Rosalie met in 1961 and resided in Ferguson, Missouri. They then moved to South St. Louis because it was closer to where Jasper was working (a spaghetti factory).

Married Rosalie LaFata

April 29 1961

Child #1 Anthony


Became a US Citizen


Worked at USD

1965 - 1967

Initially he worked for University of San Diego as a gardener. In his free time he would work on other people’s gardens to gain a little extra cash. Soon his gardening route made him more money than working at USD. He quit his job at USD in 1967.

Lived in San Diego, CA

Approx. 1966 - Approx. Present

Child #2- Rosalia (Lia)


Started His own Business

Approx. 1967 - Approx. Present

Once he quit working at USD he started his own gardening service. He saved up his money and eventually bought 3 apartment complexes which he still owns

Child #3- Joseph


Rosalie Passalacqua Passes Away

February 19, 2017

Jasper was absolutely devastated the day his best friend and partner of 55 years passed away in the hospital.


The Great Depression

1929 - 1939

World War II

1939 - 1945

Mussolini Captured


Mussolini, who had been rescued from prison by Germans, is captured and executed by Italian partisans.

United States Baby Boom

1946 - 1963

Sicilian Economy Struggles


Oil Discovered in Ragusa, Sicily


There was oil found in Ragusa, but it only provided a few thousand jobs and did not greatly help the economy.

Italy joins United Nations


Raise Berlin Wall


East Germans raise Berlin Wall

Assassination of John F. Kennedy