Charles M. Bass, a World War II veteran and longtime Westhampton Beach resident known for his kindness and community involvement, died Sunday at 93 years of age.His three children, Paul Bass, Sheila Phillips and Jeanne Ann Brown, described him as a gentle man and the kind of father who always treated them with great patience—and never missed one of their athletic events.
Mr. Bass was born to Leon and Catherine Bass in Southampton on June 16, 1920. A few years after graduating from Southampton High School, before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
He served for six years as a radio man, and spent most of his time during the war aboard the U.S.S. Matagorda in the Atlantic, patrolling the seas and protecting conveys on their way to Africa and England.
On a fateful evening not long after he left the Navy, he laid eyes on Rita “Bunny” Coyle, the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life.
Mr. Bass recalled the love story in a 1999 interview with The Press. It was January 10, 1948, and he spotted her across the room at her sister’s wedding, dressed in a blue taffeta dress. He boldly swept her away from the man she was with and told her he would marry her someday.
“Getting married to Bunny was the best move I ever made in my life,” he told The Press.
The two celebrated their 65th anniversary in January.
The couple lived in the Bronx during the early years of their marriage, but moved to Westhampton Beach with their children in 1960, when Mr. Bass took a job selling insurance for Prudential.
He retired from that position in 1982, though that didn’t mean slowing down. He became the quartermaster at the Quogue Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350, a position he held for more than 20 years.
He was also very active in the Knights of Columbus, as well as the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Quiogue, where he served as a eucharistic minister and lector, and he served on the Westhampton Beach Board of Education.
In his downtime, he loved to play golf.
“He found the joy in life,” Ms. Brown said of her father.
Family members also described Mr. Bass, known to most as Charlie, as a charming man with a kind heart, who touched many in the Southampton Town community. In 2006, he was honored as the grand marshal of the Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Paul Bass, who teaches social studies and coaches wrestling at the Westhampton Beach High School, said his father never missed any of his childhood sporting events, nor did he miss any of his grandsons’, so long as he could help it.
“Kids kind of gravitated to him,” Mr. Bass said, explaining that his father loved to spend time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, watching them play at the beach or in the yard.
His ability to connect with children was perhaps most evident in the words his 4-year-old great-grandson Jason said after he learned of his great-grandfather’s death—that his “best friend” had died, Mr. Bass explained.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Mr. Bass also had a knack for staying positive, even during difficult times, family members recalled.
“He was a ray of sunshine,” Ms. Phillips said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Bass is survived by his three children, Sheila Phillips of Quogue, Jeanne Ann Brown and husband Mike Brown, of New Hampshire, and Paul Bass and wife Kim, of Quogue, as well as five grandchildren, Meghan Phillips, Kelly Phillips Bookamer, and Zachary, Conner and Liam Bass. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren, Maura, Nolan, Charlie and Jason.
Visitation was held at the Follett and Werner Funeral Home in Westhampton Beach on Wednesday. A funeral Mass was scheduled for Thursday, February 13, at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Immaculate Conception off Old Meeting House Road on Quiogue, followed by interment at the Westhampton Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations in Mr. Bass’s name be made to Honor Flight Long Island, c/o Southampton VFW Post 7009, P.O. Box 1314, Southampton, NY 11969; the Hurricane Mat Club, 68 Depot Road, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978; or the food pantry at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, P.O. Box 1227, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978.
One fine body…