Johnny Brooks Casparis passed away on January 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas at the incredible age of 104 ½! At a very early age, he was baptized into the Methodist Church in Johnson City, Texas. He attended Johnson City High School and graduated on May 8, 1925. He and President Lyndon Baines Johnson were classmates.
In 1924, he and Lyndon comprised the debating team, which represented the Johnson City High School in the Literary Events of the Interscholastic League Meet held that year in Johnson City. They debated against a team from Blanco High School. The subject for the debate was “Resolved that the United States should join the League of Nations.” Arguing the affirmative side, they won all three votes of the judges, which gave them the Gold Medal at the county level. They progressed to the district meet held in San Marcos where they won the bronze medal. The following year, Johnny was again on the debate team, but Blanco did not send a team and they won by default. A lack of school funds prevented them from going to the district meet!
After graduating in 1925, he went to San Antonio and entered Draughen’s Business College majoring in Business Administration. On March 1, 1926 he accepted a clerical position with the Western Union Telegraph Company in San Antonio. He worked nights and went to school in the day. He received promotion after promotion, finally accepting the position of cashier. He retired from Western Union on August 1, 1970, after having worked forty-four years and five months – all in the San Antonio office.
Very early in his employment with Western Union, he became avidly interested in unionism. For sixteen years he served as the president of the San Antonio Local Chapter of the Commercial Telegraphers’ Union. In that capacity, he traveled over parts of Texas, all over the United States and three times in Canada as a delegate to state, national and international conventions. He was also a member of the union’s national bargaining committee for three years.
Johnny or “Cas” as his friends called him, was not a seasoned hunter per se, but he did enjoy many, many trips to South Texas with his best friend, Dr. Harry A. Richmond, Jr., (deceased) hunting morning doves, bob white and blue quail, and to the gulf coast area hunting ducks and geese.
Cas was an avid salt-water fisherman. He had a house in Port Aransas, Texas for over forty-five years. He participated yearly in fishing tournaments of the Tarpon Rodeo and Deep Sea Round-up and won over forty-five first prizes in the Bay Surf Division of those tournaments. Sports Illustrated sent a reporter to Port Aransas to interview him and take pictures of him fishing but upon his arrival, a hurricane was offshore and the interview was canceled.
He loved to travel abroad and made seven trips to Europe visiting Latch, Switzerland from which the Casparis people immigrated. He saw and was invited into the old Casparis homestead in Latch and the Casparis Castle at Rietberg, not far from Latch. He visited friends in Denmark and England. Six of his trips were made to Norway where he had a multitude of very close friends. On his 75th and 80th birthdays he accepted invitations from the Royal Norwegian Air Force to come there as their guest. On every flight, he was seated in the cockpit with his friends. On February 24, 1981, he was awarded an official plaque accompanied by an official letter or commendation from Major General Ingar T. Narvhus of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in return for the hospitality accorded to the Norwegian students sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. On his 90th birthday, he was forced to abandon all travel of any great distance because of health problems and when his Norwegian friends learned the reason for his absence, they would fly to San Antonio from Oslo for short visits of two days or so just to be with him on his birthday or for other friendly reasons. They returned again to help him celebrate his 100th birthday as well.
Cas had a multitude of friends at Sea World in San Antonio to whom he gave full credit for keeping his old heart young and for buoying up his spirits when they began to sag. They spent many fine hours together and gave his twilight years an extra boost.
Johnny Brooks Casparis is survived by his sister, Marie Casparis, his nephew’s George Casparis Sansom and his wife, Debbie; Patrick King Sansom and his wife, Terry Kay, Tom Leezer and his wife Sara and their families as well as by a multitude of cousins and dear friends throughout the world. He has left an imprint in the world that will be forever treasured by all that knew him.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM, Sunday, January 13, 2013 at Crofts – Crow Funeral Home in Johnson City. Interment will follow in the Masonic Cemetery in Johnson City.
In lieu of flowers, Johnny has requested that donations be made to the Methodist Church of Johnson City, Texas or to the Johnson City Masonic Cemetery.