Many thought the charismatic individual, who started off as District Attorney of Washoe County following his heroic exploits in WWII, would continue on to political prominence.
A towering physical presence, he commanded respect in all venues in which he appeared. Unfortunately, as far as politics was concerned, he was anything but “politically correct” in his feelings or vocal statements.
I can only recall one occasion where I witnessed him give a very strong politician-type speech. It was at the dedication of the new tower of the VA Hospital in Reno, which had been named in his honor. At that time, he unequivocally stated that the United States should look inward to its own problems rather than acting as a “policeman to the world.”
If there would be a poster boy for the “Greatest Generation,” as TV journalist Tom Brokaw has named it, Jack Streeter would certainly fill that bill.
Previous accounts of his heroic performance in WWII have adequately listed his awards, which made him the most decorated Nevadan of that epic struggle.
What those accounts failed to mention was his humor and generosity. His son briefly touched on it during his final service when he mentioned the incident where leaving a tip for the hotel maid was more important than going to a prescheduled business meeting.
Probably the best insight into his aggressive demeanor, which must have helped him to be a Golden Gloves champion, was exhibited at the Gin tables of the Prospectors Club. While the accepted protocol was to quietly say “Gin” and gently place your cards on the table in front of your opponent, Jack had a more forceful routine. He would utter a loud “Bang” and slam his cards down thus further intimidating and unnerving his already apprehensive opponent.
On other rare occasions, when the tables were turned on him, he would retaliate by tearing the full deck of cards in half. He also often performed this same feat if the telephone directory was handy.
It probably is a little known fact that Jack also was highly influential in jump-starting the political career of one Bill Raggio. He approached the young lawyer, who was starting out in private practice, and offered him a job as Assistant District Attorney.
When Streeter left the DA’s office after one term, Dyer Jensen succeeded him for a single term. Then, in 1958 it was Raggio’s turn to run for DA, a post he held for the next 12 years.
My most long-term contact with Jack was when he accompanied a junket to Harold Smith, Jr.’s casino in Sveti Stefan, Yugoslovia. The highlight of our relationship occurred late one evening when I was informed that three native Yugoslovians, who were not allowed to gamble, were making a scene in the bar area. Accompanied by Jack, and the late Jack Knorpp, we headed to the bar and quickly resolved the problem.
In every situation in his life, Jack Streeter was a force of nature.
Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident