John R. Jasper, Jr.

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Marker located on SW Corner of Michigan and Arctic Avenues

Marker text:

An Atlantic City native, Jasper made history when he became the resort's first African-American Fire Department Chief. He was among a handful of rookie firefighters who integrated the Fire Department in 1956, and later became known as one of "The Big Three," as he was one of the first African-Americans promoted to captain. Prior to that time African-American firefighters were only assigned to the fire station at Indiana and Grant Avenues. Captain Jasper was assigned to the fire house at Maryland and Arctic Avenues acknowledging his character and commitment to duty. Often ranked number one on civil service tests, he achieved the ranks of Battalion, Deputy, and then Fire Chief by 1984. Chief Jasper was a Master Mason and taught fire science classes. He later retired in 1987 after 31 years of public service, and in 2002, Fire Station No. 1, at Maryland and Atlantic Avenues, was proudly dedicated in his honor.


Additional information:

John Jasper was one of the "Big Three" fire captains in Atlantic City, along with Pierre Hollingsworth and Marvin Beatty. He entered the fire department at a time when it, like many other aspects of Atlantic City government, was heavily politicized. So, when Jasper achieved the rank of captain, the significance of the event overwhelmed him with emotion. During his swearing-in ceremony, he was at times unable to repeat Mayor Usry's words. Hollingsworth described Jasper as a "quiet but decisive" leader, and his daughter remembers the devotion he had to his job. She said that he was always concerned with saving lives, and was once "despondent" for weeks after finding a body in a burned building of someone that he hadn't been able to save. In addition to his career as a fireman, Jasper also taught fire science classes at Atlantic Community College. Jasper spent his retirement years playing chess, following boxing, and giving advice to neighbors from his front porch.

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Atlantic City Press, articles from December 5, 2001, December 4, 2001, and December 1, 2001

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