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John Gauper

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John Gauper Obituary

John Gauper of Wheatland, CA, passed away on January 7, 2016, at the age of 91, at the Roseville Care Center on Cirby Way, after being under hospice care since May of 2015. He was laid to rest in a private graveside service at the Wheatland Cemetery on January 12, 2016. The U.S. Marine Corps provided military honors for John, who was a veteran of World War II.

He was the eighth of nine children born to Alfred and Hannah Gauper of Duluth, Minnesota, and was a resident of the Yuba-Sutter area since 1957.

A natural athlete, Johnny, as his siblings called him, played baseball, hockey and was a star basketball player for Duluth's Denfeld High School. He was also an avid sportsman and spent much of his youth hunting, fishing and trapping throughout the northern woods of Minnesota.

After graduating from Denfeld, he joined the Merchant Marines and primarily worked aboard cargo ships that delivered supplies from the United States to the war-torn Soviet Union.

In May of 1944, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and because of his basketball prowess, he was given the option to remain stateside to play for the Marines' basketball team. However, he didn't join the Marines to bounce balls and declined the offer. Due to his experience on ships and his shooting expertise, he was given the position of gunner aboard the destroyer U.S.S. New Mexico. While he was below deck in sick bay, nursing a broken foot, his gunnery crew was wiped out in an attack from a Japanese kamikaze plane.

After an honorable discharge from the Marines, he bought a small farm near the tiny town of Big Fork, Minnesota, where he met and married his wife Maxine.

John eventually sold the farm and headed west, with stops near Mountain Home, Idaho, to work as a surveyor for the Department of Water Resources and then at Mesa, Washington, to work on the Grand Coulee Irrigation Project. A job opportunity with Cal Trans brought him to Truckee and ultimately to Linda, where he settled.

He took part in the building of Interstate 80, Oroville Dam, Bullard's Bar Dam, and numerous canals, roads, and runways throughout the state while working for Granite Construction, Teichert, Baldwin Construction, and others. He helped set the parking grade at the old Marysville Drive-In theater.

An avid gardener, John took over the Wheatland Fruit Stand which he operated for nearly twenty years. He was known to lend money to people down on their luck or give extra produce to customers with large families. He liked to give out free candy to children and free flowers to people on their way to visit the grave of a loved one.

Even after he closed the fruit stand, John continued to purchase wholesale produce from his regular growers so that he could give it away to family, friends and other special people in his life. He brought pears to his hairdresser Lynne; tomatoes, walnuts and other seasonal offerings to the cashiers at Big Al's grocery, his bank manager at Chase, receptionists at his doctors' offices and other service providers around the local area.

He was a supporting member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for many years.

Johnny was preceded in death by his wife, and eight brothers and sisters. He is survived by his children: Robert Gauper (Maree), Greg Gauper, Karen Moore (Jim) and Mary Sweet, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Pioneer Memorial Hall, corner of 4th and B Streets in Wheatland on Saturday, January 23, 2016, at 4:00 p.m., followed by a potluck dinner.

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20, 2016
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