When I met James Bass last year, I learned a valuable lesson.
At 98 years old, he and his former college roommate Gordon Petty were recalling old stories with me in the performance hall at Cumberland University.
James Bass, a World War II veteran and lifelong attorney, taught me and anyone who watched the story a lesson in undying confidence.
Despite knocking on the doorstep of the 100 club, Bass was still going to work each week and considering it a privilege. Sure, he had long since handed over most day to day operations at his law firm, but his zest for life and its simple pleasures made him a powerful resource for anyone seeking a little wisdom.
Bass died yesterday on May 21, two weeks before his 99th birthday. He was the second oldest alumnus of Cumberland University and one of the only people left to tell the story of when the army occupied the campus as a training ground for soldiers heading to the Western theater of the war.
Bass' obituary from the Smith County Register reads, "During World War II he served as a radio operator and aerial gunner on a heavy bomber assigned to the U.S. Army Air Crops stationed with the 8th Air Force in Conington, England with the 457th Bomb Group. In preparation for his assignment he went through basic training by what he called was the toughest drill sergeant in the Army. He then took an extensive course in radio operation and maintenance and procedure at an army facility in Sioux Falls, SD. It was here he learned the International Morse Code. Aerial Gunnery school followed in Yuma, AZ.
"In combat he participated in the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland Offensive, and the Central Europe Campaign. For his service he was awarded the European, African, and Middle East Campaign Medal with battle stars, the Air Medal with clusters, the Victory Medal, and the French Foreign Legion Medal of Honor, the highest honor bestowed by the French Government for his role in liberating French POW’s."
Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the Carthage Chapel of Bass Funeral Homes.