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Tony Gaspar, known for his smile and customer service, wins Amy J. Blue Award

Tony Gaspar, the lead glazier at Stanford, is one of three recipients of the 2013 Amy J. Blue Awards. "When I come here in the morning, it's like I'm coming home," he said.

L.A. Cicero Tony Gaspar

Lead glazier Tony Gaspar's smile and focus on customer service as he repairs and replaces windows and doors were noted in letters nominating him for the Amy J. Blue Award.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, there was a small crowd gathered in Tony Gaspar's office in the Glass & Sign Shop on campus when Kathleen Baldwin, a facilities manager at Stanford, glided through the aisles of the shop with a visitor in tow.

"Where is Tony G?" she asked. "There's someone here to talk to him."

"Right here," someone inside the office answered.

Baldwin stepped into the office and greeted Gaspar, lead glazier at Stanford, with a hug.

"That's a Blue hug," said Don Meehan, a lead carpenter at Stanford, referring to the fact that Baldwin and Gaspar are both Amy J. Blue Award winners – Baldwin in 2009 and Gaspar this year.

Colleagues said Gaspar is known for his focus on customer service and for his devotion to the Stanford community. They described him as proactive and responsive, a team player ready to help out in any situation – someone who always goes above and beyond the call of duty.

"Tony is amazing!" wrote Lisa O'Brien, a facilities coordinator at the Knight Management Center, in a letter nominating him for the award. "He always takes care of our needs at the Graduate School of Business with a smile. We love working with him!"

Ingrid McGovert, senior facilities coordinator at the Knight Management Center, said Gaspar responds immediately to urgent calls to fix problems.

"He is honest, kind, friendly and always has a smile on his face," McGovert said. "He is such a wonderful person to work with. He comes up with great ideas when I need advice. He takes the time out to talk even when he is busy doing other projects."

Michael Souza, a cabinetmaker at Stanford, said Gaspar is an enthusiastic employee who always has a smile on his face no matter what the situation.

"He is always willing to help out all the technicians with any problems or questions they may have," Souza wrote in a letter nominating Gaspar for the award. "Tony always puts our customer first, making sure they are satisfied with all the work that has been performed. He always leaves the customer's area just as we found it – clean and organized. I think he would make an outstanding representative for the Amy J. Blue Award, since he shows such dedication and love for his job."

Those "customers" are people who need windows repaired or replaced, or whose automatic doors need fine-tuning, including faculty, students and staff in academic buildings, athletics facilities, student residences and Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

Gaspar is one of three recipients of this year's award. The other two are Alba Holgado, the digital course management coordinator at the Robert Crown Law Library, and Monica Moore, the program administrator for three interdisciplinary programs: American Studies, Modern Thought and Literature, and Feminist Studies.

President John Hennessy is scheduled to present each of the recipients with an Amy J. Blue Award at a May 15 ceremony in the Lagunita Courtyard (on Santa Teresa Street, across from Roble Field). The ceremony, which is open to families, friends and colleagues, will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Path to Stanford began in the Azores

Gaspar was born on Saõ Miguel Island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 miles west of Lisbon.

"I am one hundred percent Portuguese," he said.

Gaspar was 11 years old when he and his father traveled to California to visit relatives who had settled in Santa Clara, and to decide if the rest of the family – his mother and six brothers and sisters – should emigrate. Gaspar voted "yes."

He knew only a few words of English when he arrived, but he quickly increased his vocabulary. Gaspar said he benefited from the fact that no one at the second elementary school he attended spoke Portuguese – in his first school he was surrounded by cousins who spoke their native language.

He said the rock band REO Speedwagon and their 1980 hit album, Hi Infidelity, gave him another reason to learn English – to sing along to "Keep on Loving You."

As a teenager, Gaspar played soccer and baseball, joined the wrestling team and ran the mile and the relay on the track team.

"I just wanted to do everything I could," he said. "I also wanted to work."

Like his late father, who was an electrician and worked in a flourmill in the Azores, Gaspar wanted to work with his hands.

Gaspar landed a temporary position in 1995 in the paint shop, which is part of the university's Buildings & Grounds Maintenance Department.

Later, at the urging of Sukhdev "Suki" Manman – a 2001 Amy J. Blue Award winner and now the trades and crafts supervisor at Stanford – Gaspar transferred to the glass shop. He became a full-time Stanford employee in 1998.

The Glass & Sign Shop is located on the east side of campus in a neighborhood of buildings that house Stanford's architectural and building engineering trades. In addition to repairing glass windows, Gaspar and two other employees maintain automatic doors in buildings all over campus, as well as laboratory fume hoods.

Gaspar said he couldn't imagine doing any other work in any other place.

"It's a family here," said Gaspar, whose first name is embroidered in white letters on his dark green shirt. "When I come here in the morning, it's like I'm coming home. We have a great team. I can't give my guys enough credit for the work they do."

Gaspar, who lives in San Jose, said he also is blessed with "an amazing family" at his real home. He and his wife, Lilly, have two sons, Zachary, 7, and Nickolas, 9.

Asked if he has any favorite windows on campus, he said he was most impressed with the beauty and quality of the stained glass windows of Memorial Church.

"Without a doubt, I love to look at those windows," he said.

Recently, Gaspar and his crew began a project to replace the picture glass windows on the garden level of the Littlefield Center with windows that open. Gaspar consulted with an outside company, which made the first window, as well as with colleagues in the university's carpentry shop.

"If you were to walk by that window, you would never notice that anything had been done to it," Gaspar said. "That takes good planning by great people."