Officer finds security in the halls of Stritch

by Scott Rudie, ’05

Few people have visited the Stritch main campus during the past 15 years without receiving a smile and words of welcome from Louis De La Pasqua, a member of Stritch’s Security Department.

“A large part of my job is perception,” he said. “If people see you around, they like that.”

The son of an Italian immigrant, De La Pasqua , or simply, “Louie,” as he is known around campus, has found that the Catholic Franciscan tradition of the University is an excellent match for his affirming outlook on life. Some would even say that his employment here was simply meant to be: both he and St. Francis share an abundant appreciation for nature, St. Francis is Louie’s patron saint, Francis is Louie’s middle name, and Louie was born on the Feast Day of St. Francis (Oct. 4).

But Louie believes that his job goes far beyond a reassuring presence. Over the years, he has become deeply connected to the University community and the students, faculty, and staff who live, study, and work here.

“It’s terrific. Beautiful people. Nice work. I look forward to coming to work every day.”

Prior to his arrival at Stritch, Louie has had a varied career, serving as a construction worker, a union steward, a corrections officer, an auxiliary police officer, and even the manager of an ice cream shop. Despite the many hats that he has worn, he does not hesitate to name his favorite.

“Stritch is by far the best job I ever had,” he said.

The ice cream shop – the Baskin-Robbins in Shorewood – had just been sold when the opportunity to work at Stritch first presented itself. Louie was still working as an auxiliary police officer in Shorewood and as a part-time security officer at Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital but was open to other opportunities. He was making his way down Oakland Avenue in Shorewood to visit the new owner of the ice cream store when Andrew De Rubertis, director of security at Stritch, drove by and told him to hop in his car.

At this point, Louie only knew Andrew as a commander in the Shorewood Auxiliary Police and was unaware of Andrew’s full-time job at Stritch. During a brief conversation at the side of the road, Andrew asked Louie if he was interested in working at Stritch as a security officer. Louie already had met many members of the Stritch community as customers at the ice cream store, so a special opportunity presented itself for Louie to fulfill a long-time ambition.

“When the Baskin-Robbins store was sold, I decided to try all the things that I always wanted to do,” he said. “You can’t be afraid to try new things. You may find your niche; you may not.”

His list included working at a hospital, becoming a corrections officer, and working at a university. Louie had already accomplished the first two goals and was thrilled that he found his way so easily to his third.

Security and law enforcement had already been a tradition in his family. Louie, one of his sons, his sister, and his brother-in-law have all served as auxiliary police officers at some point. And once Louie found himself at Stritch, he realized he found an environment that suited him well. After 14 years preparing ice cream cakes for countless birthdays and anniversaries, he welcomed the change.

“I like interacting with people, so it was a great experience for me,” he said. “But it was a little stressful. I had to get those cakes done.”

A self-described people person with an affable personality, Louie particularly enjoyed interacting with the customers at the store, using his wit and dry sense of humor.

“Almost on a daily basis, people would ask me, ‘Is your ice cream fresh?’ I would say, ‘No, ma’am. It’s frozen.’”

In his spare time, Louie has exhibited the same zest for variety as he showcased in his various jobs. He enjoys building and restoring ship models and collecting antique books.

“Books are my first love,” he said. “I’ve been collecting rare, autographed, and first edition books since high school.”

Louie’s commitment to Stritch and his steady and reassuring presence have not gone unnoticed. He was recognized with a Staff of the Year award in 2013 and a Staff Recognition Award in 2006. He also is a Franciscan Heritage Society member, recognizing his decision to include Cardinal Stritch University in his estate plan.

Louie fondly recalls his father, an accountant by profession who Louie remembers as an outstanding piano player and, at one time, a New York State Checkers Champion.

“He always talked about going back to Italy, but he never made it,” he said. “My son and I are talking about going back, next fall or next spring. I’ve been saving for years to go.”

Growing up in Milwaukee, Louie was part of a close-knit community, and he finds many of those same elements at Stritch.

“I was fortunate to grow up the way I did,” he said. “Everybody knew everybody, and there was no class distinction. Nobody was better than anybody else. I appreciate Stritch for the same reason. It’s one of the best things that happened to me.”