Heroic law officer, devoted Cougar receives alumni award

deke-gassettBONNEY LAKE, Wash. – After a bomb exploded in a Washington State University dorm in 1979, student resident advisor Deke Gassett organized fundraising for the WSU police to acquire more protective Kevlar vests. While a drug enforcement agent just eight years later, Gassett himself was protected by a Kevlar vest, saved others’ lives and won awards for his actions.

For service in his law enforcement career and volunteer community work, and for his unfailing support of all things Cougar, Gregory Michael “Deke” Gassett recently was honored with the WSU Alumni Association Alumni Achievement Award.

Deke Gassett, his family and faculty and students from the WSU criminal justice and criminology program.

A 1980 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Gassett grew up in Lind, Wash., as a Cougar fan. When he learned his future son-in-law came from a family of University of Washington supporters, Gassett helped convert him into a 2005 WSU graduate. Other Coug alumni and/or supporters in the family include Gassett’s wife, sister and brother-in-law, son and twin daughters.

While at WSU 1976-80, Gassett volunteered at the WSU/community crisis center, was a mentor in the Whitman County juvenile probation office and earned a state of Washington volunteer award.

His career in law enforcement has included service for the state gambling commission and work for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. After a 1986 shootout, he received the DEA’s highest award – the Purple Heart – as well as the Kevlar Survivors Award and the Medal of Valor from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He has received other DEA awards, as well as recognition for international cooperation from the director of the FBI.

In the early to mid-2000s, Gassett directed the DEA investigation against Marc Emery – a Canadian designated as one of the U.S. attorney general’s most wanted international drug traffickers – and investigation of the first drug trafficking tunnel between the U.S. and Canada, near Blaine, Wash.

He has served on community boards and assisted community leaders to fight drug trafficking and help young people. Throughout his career, he met with grade school and middle school students to encourage them away from drugs and gangs; he educated parents about drug abuse.

Since retiring from the DEA in 2008, Gassett works as executive mentor to the national police in Afghanistan, in particular in their fight against drug trafficking that finances terrorist groups.

While home for the Apple Cup in 2010, Gassett opened his door to Christmas carolers wearing high school gear that just happened to be purple and gold UW Huskies colors. Before giving the teens a donation for their school, he required them to sing the WSU Cougar fight song. See his recording at https://youtu.be/biyMEzAYNZI.

The WSUAA Alumni Achievement Award was created in 1970 by the WSUAA Board of Directors to recognize alumni who have given outstanding service to WSU and made contributions to their professions and communities. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association. Of an estimated 250,000 students who have attended WSU, Gassett is the 530th Alumni Achievement Award recipient.


News media contact:
Christina Parrish, WSU alumni engagement, 509-335-6907, parrishc@wsu.edu


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