10/11/2013 6:00:00 AM Friends to gather Sunday to honor 'Bud' Bassett
A man of many dimensions who left a profound impression on those who knew him will be memorialized Sunday afternoon during a special gathering at the Palace Restaurant and Saloon.
The late Howard (Bud) Bassett, 83, was killed in a flash flood in the ghost town of Mogollon, N.M., on Sept. 21.
His death has caused great sorrow for his friend, Dave Michelson, owner of the Palace, who describes their relationship as "phenomenal."
Since they first met at an antique auction in 2000, they have spent countless hours together, going to auctions, gun shows or hiking in the hills.
"He was my best friend, a really good person, a great Amrican" who served his country "unconditionally" when he was with the Arizona Army National Guard in Vietnam, Michelson said. "From the day we met, we became fast friends."
Perhaps longtime Arizona Republic columnist Ben Avery put it best when he wrote of Bassett upon his retirement in 1978 from his 25-year career with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. These are Avery's headline and beginning words:
"Salute to Bud Bassett"
"This column today would like to bow low to Bud Bassett, American, a guy completely empty of pretentions."
That Bassett was "empty of pretentions" provokes thought that he had reason to be the opposite. He earned 23 medals during his tour with the Arizona Army Guard as a Chinook helicopter pilot from 1966 to 1967. He came home with 15 Air Medals, two Air Medals with a "V" for valor, one Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism, two Bronze Stars, two Army commendation medals, and a Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry.
The Guard declared him "the most decorated" soldier in Arizona, and as Avery wrote, "not one was a Purple Heart."
Bassett was born in Berkeley, Calif. After graduating from Berkeley High, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a degree in paleontology. He went on to receive a master's degree in fisheries biology at the University of Colorado at Ft. Collins.
He began his long career with Game and Fish as a fisheries biologist in Clarkdale. He went on to become the department's chief of regions and worked in Phoenix until his retirement at the age of 48.
Bassett and his late wife, Sally, together, owned antique shops and later a mail-order antique business while living in California and Utah for periods of time and in Arizona, as well. They moved to Prescott in 1992.
This passion for history and antiques led Bassett to forming his many friendships.
Coincidentally, his friend Dick Ralston of Lyons, Colo., was affected by the same storm that took Bassett's life, forcing him and his wife, Kathy, to live in a motel until Christmas, because his home is without utilities.
The Ralstons were antique dealers and collectors, too, and crossed paths with the Bassetts at shows.
"He just had many facets of interest. He loved the outdoors, hiked several miles a day, and he was an avid collector of mining memorabilia. He was incredibly intelligent, with a super amount of common sense," Ralston said of his friend. "He was amazing," he added, pointing to another "facet."
"He had an incredible love for animals. He wouldn't even set a mousetrap for mice. He didn't want to hurt them."
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall and Bassett met when they were in the Guard decades ago. The two were selected to develop the Officers Candidate School for the Guard, and the mayor said of Bassett, "He was without a doubt one of the finest people I ever met. He was a true professional in everything he did. We accomplished a lot of good for the Army National Guard."
Randy Main of Yucaipa, Calif., is another friend Bassett met because of their antiquing.
"My nice friend," he said. "I went everywhere with him. He liked the wild west and ghost towns." Not long ago, the two "went from ghost town to ghost town" in Arizona, and because of Bassett's knowledge of the state's history, "He could tell you things that nobody else would know.
"Everywhere we went, he had another story. It was incredible. I wanted to do that a hundred more times."
Prescott friend Karen Hopwood, another antique aficionado, called Bassett "a sweet, sweet man. He was very knowledgeable and cordial. He had lots of stories.
To me, he was just one of the best."
State historian Marshall Trimble, who often entertains at the Palace, got to know Bassett because he was often in the audience.
The two shared their love of Arizona history. He visited Bassett's antique collection, and from the time their friendship began, "He was always sending me home with little gifts" from his store of vintage memorabilia, Trimble said.
"He was a wonderful man. He must have had a million friends."
The memorial at the Palace, which will include appetizers and a no-host bar, begins at 3 p.m.
Bassett's survivors include his daughters, Jan Wardle and her husband, Scott, and Sally Day; six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Article comment by:
I met Bud and Sally in the mid 70's thru our interest in antique beer advertising. I bought a rare beer tray from him in his AZ fish and game office, circa 1977. That was the first time I met him. When he moved to Grass Valley CA in 1979, he was our guest when we did the PMA show in San Mateo. No Friday night was complete without polishing off a bottle of Yukon Jack. One night he shared a bit of AZ history with me. It went like this....Bud had been for some time trying to get a pay raise for game wardens. It kept getting held up in the Senate. Some how, some way, he found a way to request that the leader of the Senate come to his office to discuss the matter. After some discussion in which the Senator was dodging the reason(s) for the hold up, Bud asked if the senator had ever met a game warden? 'No', came the response. Would the Senator like to spend a day on the job with a Game Warden to understand the difficulty of the job they do? 'No', came the response. It has been nice to get to know you Mrs. O'Connor, but I don't think we have anything else to discuss, was Bud's final response. Bud didn't show any animosity towards her in telling this story. But Bud then knew more about her than most.
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by:
Bud Bassett indeed was a great human-- a fine example for all of us to follow one tough son-of-a-gun. He will be truly missed.