John Ascuaga - 1925-2021

John was a proud Basque whose parents came from Orozko, Spain. He attended the University of Idaho and Washington State University to degrees in Accounting and hotel and restaurant management. While in college he worked at the Coeur D’Alene Resort as a bellman kicking off his career in the hospitality industry. 

When John moved to Sparks, he met Idaho native and gaming pioneer Dick Graves. John served as General manager of the Sparks Nugget which was just a coffee shop with some slot machines. When Dick Graves retired in 1960, Ascuaga bought the Nugget and turned it into a major hotel casino resort.  

John met his wife Rose Ascuaga a at the Nugget steak house and together they raised four children, Camille, Michonne, John, and Stephen. John, Michonne, and Stephen would go on to work at the Nugget under their father with Michonne working her way to become CEO and Stephen to COO. Rose died on November 28, 2020 after an extended illness. 

It was a family business and John included all his employees as extended family. He had nicknames for many employees and would enjoy walking around each day to see how everything was running and to engage with employees and customers making them feel welcome and special. John had a memory like his favorite performing elephant, Bertha. He could remember people, faces, and names going back many years which also endeared him to many people. 

Many area residents have either worked at the Nugget while attending school or as part of their career. Most everyone in town has known someone who has worked at the Nugget with John and most have storis to tell. John’s smile and energy could light up a room. He always left people smiling. 

John was a proud Sparks Rotarian who enjoyed spending time with fellow club members at the weekly meetings and catching up on events. He was very inspired by the quality of the people and their passion to give back to the community. He was a kind man who performed many acts of kindness, often without seeking any recognition. He would surprise employees if they were in the hospital and always offer words of encouragement and positivity. 

John Ascuaga was a gaming pioneer and will forever be remembered for his generosity, energy, and love of life. 

Sparks Rotary - Kid’s Free Fishing Day - We’re Back!
Sparks Rotary members met in person for an “official” Kid’s Free Fishing Day meeting. Club members Bruce & Helaine Campbell, Mike Day, Mark Elston, Jennifer Powers, Randy Rascati, Jim & Kelly Southard, Ron Weaver & Don Welsh met at the Great Basin Brewing Company to go over the details on Kid’s Free Fishing Day. It was great to meet in person and discuss Sparks Rotary’s premier youth event! Interested in learning more? Contact KFFD Chair Mike Day.

We’re going fishing!

Save the Dates
Day 1: Special Needs Day - September 16, 2021
Day 2: Kid's Free Fishing Day - September 18, 2021