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One of Sparks’ favorite sons passes
by Harry Spencer
Mar 04, 2013 | 2053 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The recent death of Jack Streeter, one of Sparks’ favorite sons, came as sad news to the people who knew him. If there were 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, Yugoslavia. The highlight of our relationship occurred late one evening when I was informed that three native Yugoslavians, who were not allowed to gamble, were causing a disturbance in the bar area. I first sought out Joe Keshmeri, Junior’s bodyguard, to assist me in taking care of the situation. Keshmeri said he had better check with Junior first and disappeared. As the ruckus grew worse, I searched for other help and found Streeter dozing on the couch in the lobby. Accompanied by Jack and the late Jack Knorpp, we headed to the bar and resolved the problem.

On the return flight from Yugoslavia, our plane was delayed by a mechanical malfunction and we spent several hours at the airport in Shannon, Ireland. This meant that our arrival in San Francisco would be delayed until around midnight. As we approached the SF airport, Jack came up to me and noted that one of his clients, Harvey Gross, owner of the Wagon Wheel Casino at Lake Tahoe had offered to pay for hotel accommodations for the junketeers who could not get a flight home at that late hour.

In every situation in his life Jack Streeter was a force of nature.

Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.
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