Cover photo for Robert Gerald Bass's Obituary
Robert Gerald Bass Profile Photo
1933 Robert 2024

Robert Gerald Bass

May 2, 1933 — May 30, 2024

Dr. Robert Gerald (Jerry) Bass

Died peacefully in his sleep on May 30, 2024, at the age of 91after a long happy life.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, he was the son of Goin Robert and Mabel Crabtree Bass. He was the first in his family to attend college, taking the Powhatan Arrow on the Norfolk and Western through Lynchburg to school in Blacksburg. He graduated from Virginia Tech and went to graduate school at the University of Virginia, his beloved alma mater, earning a PhD in organic chemistry. After a couple of years at Dupont, he became one of two chemistry faculty members at Richmond Polytechnic Institute. During his distinguished 35-year career, he helped to grow a small regional school into VCU, a vibrant top-50 public research university. His research focused on polymer chemistry and included work in support of NASA’s aerospace program. He was active in professional organizations, elected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and as Executive Officer of the Virginia Academy of Science and was awarded VCU’s Distinguished Service Award in 1992. After retirement he was active as a volunteer with professional organizations, Meals on Wheels, and Westminster Canterbury, Lynchburg.

Throughout his life his greatest impact was as a revered teacher, advisor, and mentor to generations of students and other young people, helping them realize their potential and forge rewarding lives and careers. He took a special interest in those who were first generation college students or needed someone to believe in their ability to become doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and chemists.

Jerry was a deeply committed and often frustrated fan of the Cavaliers. He enjoyed travel, ranging from family excursions in a chartreuse VW camper van across the U.S. to trips to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. Warm, sympathetic, and gregarious, he made friends with all he met. Jokes, some good, some just good-natured, were a hallmark of his conversation. He had a story for every occasion, a cookie for every dog, and a seed for every bird.

He will be warmly remembered and greatly missed by Susan Bass, his wife of 65 years, sons, Robert C. Bass, M.D. and David Bass, their spouses, Moira Rafferty, M.D., and Julio Mondragon, grandchildren, Eleanor Bass and Daniel Bass, sister, Katherine Whitesell, and beloved nieces and nephews.  

A memorial service will be held June 14, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 205 Elmwood Avenue, Lynchburg, VA, 24503.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to: The “Gerald and Susan Bass Scholarship Fund in Chemistry” at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) https://www.support.vcu.edu/give/ (search by fund name)   Or by mail to:   Box 843042, Richmond, VA 23284-3042.

Westminster Canterbury of Lynchburg Attention: Development Office 501 V.E.S. Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.  
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Gerald Bass, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, June 14, 2024

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

St. John's Episcopal Church

205 Elmwood Ave, Lynchburg, VA 24503

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