Gasper Cardinale HONOREE 2020
Gasper Vincent Cardinale was born in Palermo, Sicily to Vincenzo and Nellina Cardinale on February 14, 1935. At the age of 3 Gasper moved to the United States with his mother and maternal grandfather, Guiseppe Cardinale. Waiting for them in Monterey was Gasper's father and extended family.
Gasper attended Thomas O Larkin School, Walter Colton and Monterey High School. (Gasper's wife Carmela and their 4 children attended the same schools.) At the age of 10 Gasper's first job was delivering newspapers from Alvarado Street to the Naval Postgraduate School. At age 14 Gasper began his career in the shoe business where he apprenticed for Ragghianti Shoe Repair on Alvarado Street. At 15 years old Gasper's next job was at Troia's Market. He worked there for over three years beginning as a stock and delivery boy and finally graduating to the Deli department where he made Italian Sausage. He still knows the secret recipe for making Troia's delicious Italian Sausage.
In 1947 though he did not realize it at the time, Gasper met the love of his life, Carmela DiMaggio, when she arrived from Trapani, Sicily with her family. Gasper and Carmela's fathers were both local fisherman and the families were very close. In 1955 Gasper and Carmela began their courtship. Since Carmela's father knew the Cardinale’s, he allowed his daughter to date Gasper without a chaperone. After two years of courtship Gasper and Carmela were married at San Carlos Cathedral on October 6, 1957. The following year they welcomed their first son, Vincenzo.
In 1953 Gasper began his hitch with the Naval Reserve rising to the rank of Personnel Officer Second Class. In 1961 he was honorably discharged fulfilling his term of enlistment 8-year term of enlistment.
In 1955 Gasper went to work for James Rowe at the Village Shoe Tree on Ocean Ave. in Carmel. He didn't know it at the time, but Gasper would remain associated to the Village Shoe Tree for the remainder of his business life. Gaining a reputation as a seller of fine shoes and accessories Gaspers' clientele varied; locals, celebrities, and visitors from around the world. After managing The Village Shoe Tree for over 12 years Gasper and Carmela bought the store from Mr. Rowe.
In 1977 they opened Cardinale Fine Shoes and Carmel Plaza Men's Bootery. Because of his attention to detail and customer service Gasper would personally deliver shoes to customers who were unable to come into the store. Over the years three of Gasper and Carmela's children helped make his businesses a success.
While managing the shoe stores Gasper became a member of The Carmel Business Association. Gasper was elected to several offices during this time; Secretary, Vice President and President which he held for 12 years. He also was a member of Carmel by the Sea Kiwanis Club where he held several offices culminating with a term as President. He often travelled to Salinas to deliver shoes to the underprivileged. During the holiday season Gasper was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Because of his friendly demeanor and outgoing personality he was recognized as top bell ringer several years running.
Gasper's contribution to charities continued with his time at the American Cancer Society where he was a board member for 5 years. Gasper and the other board members were instrumental in helping to create the Cancer Center at Community Hospital.
A few years later he was shoulder tapped by Superior Court Judge Harpjoon Paik to be a member of the Grand Jury for Monterey County. Gasper accepted and said being a member of the Grand Jury was one of his most enjoyable experiences.
In the early 90's Gasper and Carmela, along with their sons, Vincenzo and Rocco, opened Cardinale Coffee Roasting Company in the courtyard behind The Village Shoe Tree. Wanting to expand their business to include soup and sandwiches Gasper and his sons did battle with an opposing city council and won. They were grateful to the Carmel residents and customers for their support. If you ever want to get anything accomplished just tell Gasper it can't be done.
After selling the shoe stores and coffee house Gasper went into semi-retirement. He was asked by his Cousin Vince Cardinale to manage the specialty shoe department at Ordway Pharmacy. Gasper agreed and worked their part time. During his time at Ordway Gasper said he had the most fun of his life. He was able to find solutions for people that were having foot problems as well as visit with family and friends that came to fill their prescriptions. For Gasper, working for Vince Cardinale at Ordway Pharmacy wasn't a job, it was pure joy and he will be forever grateful to Vince for making his time there so special.
Gasper joined the Italian Catholic Federation as a Board Member rising to the office of Vice President. One of Gasper's jobs for the ICF was greeter at the Lenten Dinner. While San Carlos Cathedral was being renovated and not available, he reached out to the executive officers at the Portuguese Hall and asked if the Lenten Dinners could be held there. Knowing the Lenten Dinners is a gathering place for the community as well as the primary fundraiser for the ICF he wanted to make sure this tradition continued while the church hall was not available. Once again, he was told it couldn't be done, so Gasper made it a win win for both organizations. He and Carmela also opened up their home for ICF monthly meetings during this time.
Most recently Gasper has spent a lot of time volunteering at the Monterey Elks where he was elected to the Board of Trustees and rose to the position of Chairman of The Board. Along with his fellow board members Gasper has been instrumental in updating the Elks recreational area, security system, parking lot, and also increasing Elks membership. Gasper was a long time member of the Festa Italia and the Italian Heritage Society Board of Directors. He is currently Vice President of the Italian Heritage Society.
One of Gasper's greatest challenges and accomplishments was making Monterey, Ca. and Isola Delle Femmine, Sicily Sister Cities. Along with Peter Coniglio, Peter Davi, Sal Ferrante, Mayor Clyde Roberson and the Monterey City Council, Gasper's vision was realized in September of 2017 when a delegation from Isola Delle Femmine traveled to Monterey and signed a proclamation making the two cities sisters. Many people told Gasper that they had tried to make this happen and it couldn't be done. Once again, his hard work and dedication to a cause he believed in came to fruition.
On Saturday afternoons Gasper can be found at San Carlos Cathedral as he performs the duties of usher and Eucharistic minister at the 4pm Mass. This is where Gasper gives thanks to God for the many blessing he has been given. Starting with his wife Carmela, his four wonderful children and 6 grandchildren. Gasper is forever grateful to his parents for leaving a place that they loved in search of a better life in Monterey.
Gasper wants to thank the Italian Heritage Society for this Honor.
Categories"WE JUST DON'T FISH!"
Italian Heritage Society Scholarship Application
Honorees Italian Heritage Society
Fishing - Additional Stories
Suggested Reading Italian Heritage
Italian Fishing Families of Monterey
Monterey Peninsula Herald