Former Grass Valley Mayor Gerard Tassone had a ‘heart for the community’ |

Former Grass Valley Mayor Gerard Tassone had a ‘heart for the community’

After serving more than 20 years on Grass Valley’s planning commission and city council, and then nearly 10 years in volunteer and reserve positions with the police department, it’s no surprise Gerard Tassone’s friends and colleagues repeatedly refer to his community spirit.

Tassone, 67, died March 20 after “fighting a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer,” his obituary states. A family graveside service and a reception to honor his life will be planned for a later date.

“Words can’t accurately describe what he meant to the community,” said Grass Valley Police Sgt. Dan Kimbrough, who partnered with Tassone on patrol. “He was an amazing man. He always was in a good mood; he always wanted to help.”

Tassone, the youngest of 12 children, was born in 1952 and attended Mount St. Mary’s School and Nevada Union High School before attending Santa Clara University and Sacramento State University. He started Tassone Cabinets with John Tassone, who bought him out about six years later. He also worked in the video broadcast industry in the area for 32 years, most recently with AJA Video Systems Inc.

Tassone entered city politics in 1986, when he was asked to serve on the Planning Commission. In 1989, he was elected to the Grass Valley City Council after four of the council’s five members were recalled. He was re-elected for four more terms and served as mayor twice.

Tassone ran for city council in 1989 because “he wanted people to trust and respect the council again,” said Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller, who also won election to the city council that year. “Gerard was always level-headed and calm about things. … It was all about making common-sense decisions.”

Miller said he was glad that Tassone was honored by the city in 2010, when they dedicated a City Star to him at the corner of East Main and South Auburn streets. It was just about wanting to be involved, Tassone said at the time, adding, “I just wanted to take an active part in the city.”

“He deserved it,” Miller said. “Gerard had a heart for the community, and the city and the community as a whole benefited from his leadership.”

Former Police Chief John Foster said he met Tassone in 1989, when as a member of the city’s public safety committee Tassone interviewed him for the position. Foster then brought Tassone on board the police department in 2011 first as a volunteer, then as a reserve officer after he sponsored himself through POST Reserve Police Officer Academy.

“I used to joke that he hired me and then I hired him,” Foster said. “He loved the city of Grass Valley and he really loved working at the police department. He was the kind of guy who always made you laugh — he was always upbeat and positive.”

Kimbrough called Tassone a “phenomenal person,” adding, “He always had everyone’s back — I could talk to him about anything. I was very blessed to have known him. … I’m going to miss him every day of my life.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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