Richard Daniel "Dick" Bass, Class of 1951

(12/21/1929 7/26/2015)


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Richard Daniel “Dick” Bass of Dallas died on July 26, 2015. He will be remembered as a loving husband, enthusiastic father, entertaining friend, thoughtful counselor and a visionary entrepreneur. He was born December 21, 1929, in Tulsa, OK, the son of Harry Wesley Bass and Wilma Schuessler Bass and moved with his family to Dallas, TX in October 1932, living in Dallas until his death. He graduated from Highland Park High School in 1946 at the age of 16 and attended Yale University, graduating in 1950.

Dick enrolled at UT in the fall of 1950 as a post graduate student. While at UT he was a member of Phi Delta Theta, a social fraternity, and he joined the Naval ROTC. In the NROTC Unit he was a member of the Color Guard. In June 1951 he graduated with a post graduate degree in geology and received his commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Dick felt called to serve and did so for two years during the Korean War as an officer aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Essex (CV-9), which had been modernized after WWII to take new jet aircraft. It was re-commissioned just six months before Dick reported aboard. The new McDonnell F2H Banshee jet aircraft was debuted aboard Essex. Essex conducted a total of three tours during the conflict and while Dick was aboard.

Upon his discharge in June 1953 Dick joined the family oil and gas business and ranching operations. He found his over-arching purpose in life when he began skiing in Colorado in the 1950s. In the mountains he discovered communion with nature, which led to his desire to be a part of a growing ski industry in the United States, initially as an investor in Aspen and later Vail. He was an original limited partner in Vail Ski Resort and joined Vail’s Board of Directors in 1965, with his family eventually owning a majority ownership stake in Vail that was sold in the mid-1980s. Dick’s lifelong quest became the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah, where he had the opportunity to provide a place for human camaraderie while enhancing people’s joyful communion with the great outdoors. From Snowbird’s opening in 1971 until Dick’s sale of the resort in 2014, Dick spent 43 years as the owner/developer and Chairman of Snowbird, building a world-renowned, year-round destination mountain resort, dedicated to the enhancement of body, mind and spirit. In 2006 Dick was awarded the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2009 he was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Highland Park Alumni Association in 2013.

Dick’s infectious enthusiasm will long be remembered as well as his non-stop verbosity, super curious and adventurous spirit. His energy and enthusiasm enabled him on April 30, 1985, to reach the top of Mt. Everest, being the first person to climb the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents, chronicled in the book, Seven Summits, authored together with his climbing partner, Frank Wells, former President of Warner Brothers and then Disney. At 55, he became the oldest person by 5 years (at that time) to reach the top of Mt. Everest. Dick had a lifelong love of poetry, art and literature. He seized every opportunity to share a moral or a virtue by reciting a poem or aphorism to convey a valuable perspective or lesson. He was an entertaining raconteur, with a lively, ribald story to tell at any given moment.

He is survived by his loving wife of 23 years, Alice Worsham Aston Bass, four children: a son, Dan Bass; daughter and son-in-law, Bonnie and Peter Smith; daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Jim Moroney; and son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Hong Bass; five stepchildren: Susan Barge, Jimmy Aston, Ann Ratelle, Lang Aston, Lucy Witte; 13 grandchildren: Julie Smith, Caroline Smith, Kate Smith, Pete Smith and Mason Smith; Sean Moroney, Meagan Moroney, Kyle Moroney, Jenny Moroney and Callie Moroney; Aline Bass, Laura Bass and Kevin Bass.

During his lengthy illness with pulmonary fibrosis, Dick was most fortunate to have love and support from his wife, Alice, and continuing dedicated assistance from Lorraine Fry, Luis Aguilera and David Spearance. In his final months he received compassionate care from Tamela Harlan, Pamela Lias, Ronetha Johnson and Faith Presbyterian Hospice. A memorial service was held on July 31, 2015 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas.

Much of the above obituary came from one published in the Dallas Morning News from July 30 to July 31, 2015. It was edited and added to with additional information from the UT Cactus yearbook and other sources.


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