Thursday, October 16, 2014

RIP Milton R. Bass

RIP Milton Bass
 
The Berkshire Eagle
October 16, 2014
 
Milton R. Bass 1923-2014
 
RICHMOND Milton R. Bass, author, writer, gardener, and raconteur, died Tuesday Oct. 14, 2014, at home in Richmond. He was 91. Born in Pittsfield January 15, 1923, he was one of three children of the late Philip and Lena Bass. His brother, Harold, and his sister, Henrietta Greengold Garbowit, predeceased him. A 1940 graduate of Pittsfield High School, Milt started college at the University of Massachusetts and completed his bachelor's degree in biology in 1947 after his Army service in World War II. He was proud of his master's degree from Smith College, which admitted a small number of men to graduate programs after the war. At that time, he had switched from pre-med to comparative literature because of his Army service as a medic, saying he no longer wanted to deal with the wounded and dying. He often commented on playing sports with Smith women and the problem of finding a men's room on campus. His master's thesis at Smith was titled, "The Relationship of Jonathan Swift to the Satire of James Joyce." He then did pre-doctoral work at Columbia University and passed the oral exams, but never wrote a dissertation. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters by Westfield State University with a citation for his "35 spirited years as thoughtful critic, provocative columnist and witty observer of the world at large." In the Army, he served from 1942-45 with the 104th Infantry Division, known as the Timberwolves, in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. His division liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Nordhausen, an experience that haunted him for the rest of his life. He was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action in Holland in 1944 when he and his fellow medics crawled across a minefield under German fire to rescue two injured soldiers. His parents' health problems brought him home in 1951, and he took a part-time job as a copy editor at The Berkshire Eagle. That stretched into full time, as the arts and entertainment editor, and lasted until 1986 when he took early retirement after a heart attack. His column, however, which moved from the arts page to the Sunday feature page and then to op-ed, continued, and was part of The Eagle for 60 years. His last one ran in the paper on September 28. He enjoyed telling stories about his interviews with such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Dick Cavett, Helen Hayes, Isabella Rossellini, Sigourney Weaver, Bernadette Peters, Randy Weston and Dave Brubeck. In addition to his Eagle writings, Milt wrote about jazz for the Atlantic Monthly, various travel articles for The Boston Globe, the Washington Post and Yankee Magazine. He was also author of 13 published novels, including four westerns, two detective series and several traditional novels. His first novel, "Jory," was made into a feature film starring actor Robby Benson. Bass didn't like the movie and tried to prevent it from being shown locally. It came anyway, and theater manager Francis Faille provided a private showing for the Bass family and friends, as well as his own daughter, Sister Barbara, and the other Sisters of St. Joseph from St. Joseph Central High School. In 1995, Bass was nominated for an Edgar Award for best paperback original mystery novel for "The Broken Hearted Detective." In 1956, he met Ruth Haskins when she came to The Eagle as police and court reporter. They were married May 27, 1960 and celebrated 54 years of marriage this year. After taking 15 years off to raise the children, Ruth returned to The Eagle and they spent 24 hours a day together, in adjacent offices and at their home in Richmond. He spent hours in his beloved vegetable garden and fruit orchard, and was famous for uttering in each successive growing season, "these are the best peas we've ever had." In addition to Ruth, he is survived by his three children, son Michael Bass of Old Greenwich, Conn., a senior vice president at CNN; daughter Elissa Bass, a social media consultant in Stonington, Conn.; and daughter Dr. Amy Bass of New Rochelle, N.Y., a professor at The College of New Rochelle; his daughter-in-law, Donna Bass; and his sons-in-law, Joseph Wojtas and Evan Klupt. Survivors include his grandchildren, Sam, Emily and Jake Bass; Summer and Max Wojtas; and Hannah Klupt; and several nieces and nephews, including Mark Greengold of Pittsfield, Daniel Greengold of Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Debbi Welch of Chicago. He is also survived by his TV-watching partner, the family Sheltie, Tracer. He was known affectionately to all as "Miltie." Grandson Sam was just learning to talk when he put the "Miltie" label on his grandfather instead of adopting another "grandpa" term. "Mitty" was all he could manage, and the five other grandchildren followed suit. Forever after, he was Miltie. Calling hours are 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday, October 18, at the DERY FUNERAL HOME, 54 Bradford St., Pittsfield. A memorial service will be held at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Richmond Free Public Library or the Anita Chapman Scholarship Fund, sent in care of the Dery Funeral Home.
 
 
BASS, Milton R. (Milton Ralph Bass)
Born: 1/15/1923, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Died: 10/14/2014, Richmond, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
 
Milton R. Bass’ western – writer:
Jory – 1973

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