Don Casper, a longtime figure in the San Francisco Republican Party and a Civil Service Commission member, was killed by a hit-and-run driver while jogging Sunday evening in Sonoma County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Casper, 63, was jogging along River Road west of Wilshire Drive in Forestville at about 7 p.m. when he was hit by a white Ford pickup truck with an extended cab, the CHP said. Witnesses said the driver slowed down before fleeing eastbound on River Road.
Casper, a North Beach resident, was vice president of the San Francisco Civil Service Commission and an attorney with the law firm Jacobs, Spotswood & Casper, according to his bio on the commission’s website. He was appointed to the commission in 2000 by then-Mayor Willie Brown.
Casper was chairman of the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee from 1997 to 2002, and also served on the California Republican State Central Committee. He was an “avid long-distance runner” and had completed nine marathons, the bio said.
Reached by phone before the commission’s 2 p.m. meeting Monday, commission President Dennis Normandy said he had just had lunch with Casper last week and was “floored” by the news.
“He was regaling me with stories about the characters in North Beach,” Normandy recalled.
“Don’s death is a tremendous loss, not only to the commission, but to The City and to the entire state,” Normandy said.
Normandy described Casper as a “very even-tempered, fair-minded man” who, despite his politics, “was able to talk with people on both sides of the aisle.”
Casper had recently made news for being rehired by Gov. Jerry Brown as a state buildings commissioner. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had fired him after he publicly opposed the proposed sale of state office buildings in The City.
Casper attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University.
Casper was “very proud of his Jesuit education,” Normandy said, “and he lived his life according to the principles he was taught.”
“They’ve taken away a very, very good man,” Normandy said.
The commission is going ahead with today’s meeting, but will have a moment of silence and adjourn in Casper’s honor.
Anita Sanchez, executive officer of the commission, said Casper had been staying with friends in Forestville at the time.
“We’re devastated,” Sanchez said. “It’s just a tragedy.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement that Casper "was the expert on the rules governing employment in the City & County of San Francisco and knew it better than anyone else."
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call CHP Detective Michael Phennecia at (707) 588-1400.
Bay City News contributed to this report.
Correction: This article was corrected on August 16, 2011. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the age of Don Casper due to incorrect information released by the California Highway Patrol. He was 63.