Irwin man created treasures from glass, good times with music
The glass Lee Jasper helped produce has gone around the world and beyond it.
Before retiring as a scientific glassblower at the former Westinghouse research and development center in Churchill, the Irwin man “did a lot of interesting things,” daughter Wendy Bigelow said. “He helped with Spacelab and parts for a camera that went to the moon. He made three solid glass dolphins that were given to the Japanese ambassador when he came over here.”
He also had a hand in making glass for time capsules — including one installed as part of the New York World’s Fair and another placed at Irwin Park to mark a local community anniversary. “You’d seal it in glass. That way, it’s in a vacuum and nothing decomposes,” Bigelow said.
After he retired in the early 1990s, Mr. Jasper set up glassblowing equipment in his garage to make ornaments for craft fairs and as family gifts.
“Every Christmas, he would come up with a new ornament that we’d all get,” Bigelow said. “My favorite that he made were snowflakes, and he liked to give people (glass) hummingbirds. That was one of his favorites.”
Lee R. Jasper of Irwin died Saturday, July 6, 2019, at Westmoreland Manor. He was 87. Born March 27, 1932, he was a son of the late Ladd and Florene Jasper.
A 1950 graduate of North Huntingdon High School and lifetime member of Irwin’s American Legion post, Mr. Jasper served two years in the Army. He was stationed at Fort Knox during the Korean War, along with his identical twin brother, Ladd, who preceded him in death in 2015.
“Sometimes, they would trade places and take each other’s shifts, and nobody knew about it,” Bigelow said. “They had similar personalities. They were partners in crime a lot.”
Her father was “very social, the life of the party, making sure everybody had a good time,” she said, adding, “He liked to be busy all the time.”
That might explain the multiple hobbies Mr. Jasper pursued throughout his life, sharing many of them with his twin brother or other family members.
In his early years, he played tenor drum in local drum and bugle corps — first with the Pittsburgh Rockets and then with the Westmoreland Esquires.
He directed his daughter’s Rainbow Girls drill team — dubbed Lee’s Patriots — for eight years, winning six state championships.
He sang lead with the Barbershop County Line Chorus, affiliated with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, and played in a “tub band” that provided entertainment at gatherings such as class reunions and wedding receptions.
Mr. Jasper also enjoyed playing golf in the Irwin Retirees and Westinghouse golf leagues and built and flew radio-controlled model airplanes as a member of the Keystone Clippers club.
“Whatever he was involved in, he was a worker bee,” Bigelow said.
That included serving as a longtime trustee of First United Church of Christ in Irwin.
“His touch was on almost every room in the church,” said his wife of 64 years, Doris.
In addition to his parents and twin brother, Mr. Jasper was preceded in death by two other siblings.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Wendy (Sam) Bigelow, Jerry Jasper, Jody (Steve) Brunecz and Roger Jasper; and three grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at William Snyder Funeral Home, 521 Main St., Irwin, where a funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Interment will follow in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.
Memorial contributions may be made to First United Church of Christ, 400 Main St., Irwin, PA 15642.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .