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Jerry Marsalli: “He Stood His Watch in Full”

Jerry  Marsalli:

Last week the Santa Clara City Council honored outgoing Member Jerry Marsalli – not only for his four years of service on the Council, but his lifetime of service to the city as well.

State Assemblyman Kansen Chu, County Supervisor Ken Yeager and a representative from State Senator Bob Wieckowski’s office were also on hand to honor Marsalli, noting the outgoing Council Member’s work on regional issues including transportation, water and conservation, and emergency services.

A lifelong Santa Claran, Marsalli is, said Council Member Patrick Kolstad, truly “a home town guy.”

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Marsalli attended St. Clare’s elementary school, St. Francis Prep and graduated from San José State University with a degree in criminal justice studies. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Dept. before joining the Santa Clara Police, where he served more than 30 years.

During his SCPD career, Marsalli worked in almost every aspect of police work, retiring as a Lieutenant. He was named a California Financial Crime Investigator of the Year, distinguishing himself in financial crime investigation – for which he received a state award – and arson cases, solving a high-profile serial arson case. Marsalli also was a program coordinator at Evergreen College’s criminal justice training center.

For Marsalli, professional retirement just marked the beginning of another kind of full-time public service as a volunteer.

He served on the Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Commission and the 2010 General Plan committee and as a director of the Police Activities League and the Mission City Community Fund (MCCF). He was an active member of the Santa Clara Kiwanis and Rotary service clubs. This year he received the MCCF’s highest honor, the Austen Warburton Community Service Award.

“Jerry has dedicated himself to this community,” said Council Member Teresa O’Neill. Whether through his police work, charitable activities, or Council work, community service is a lifelong vocation for Marsalli, she said.

Marsalli is part of a family that’s been synonymous with community service for generations. “His parents taught him the importance of giving back to the community,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor, “and his fulfilled his commitments.”

He’s the son of former Mayor and Council Member Larry Marsalli, who launched the community Thanksgiving dinner at St. Clare church. Every year, four generations of Marsallis gather to serve a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of people.

He’s also the grandson of the late Joe Marsalli, a charter member of a local chapter of the Italian Catholic Federation and, until his death at 100 in 1995, the oldest member of American Legion Post 419. In 1950, after retiring from more than 30 years of 12+ hour days wholesaling and retailing produce and seafood, Joe heard that the Santa Clara water department needed help laying new water lines and he went back to work.

Over the past year, Marsalli faced a recurrence of cancer, as well as the declining health and the death last summer of his beloved wife Nancy; whose “patience, love and understanding” was fundamental to his ability to serve in so many ways, Marsalli said.

Through it all, Marsalli “stood his watch in full,” said Kolstad. “It’s been a great ride being his partner – as a detective and on the Council.”

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