January 11, 2002

Bass, longtime School of Nursing supporter, dies at 83

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Sara Bass

Sara Bass, a longtime supporter of her alma mater, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and of Nashville’s academic, arts and religious community for almost 50 years, died Sunday, Dec. 22, of a heart attack at Blakeford at Green Hills, the retirement community where she lived. She was 83.

Bass, originally from Manchester, Ga., graduated from the School of Nursing in 1940, and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau national nurses’ honor society. She worked as a surgical nurse at Vanderbilt until 1944, when she married Dr. Allan D. Bass, who, in 1952, became chairman of the department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. As the wife of a department chairman, Bass continually took under her wings the spouses of young physicians and researchers going through training.

Bass, whom friends called a “silent disciple,” was an active leader in many Nashville organizations, including the Centennial Club, Cheekwood and the Nashville Symphony. She was president of the Vanderbilt Women’s Club, Vanderbilt Medical Center Auxiliary, the Vanderbilt Sewing Club and the United Methodist Women at Belle Meade United Methodist Church. She served in other leadership committees at Belle Meade United Methodist Church. She and her husband also were active in the Canby Robinson Society.

But it was her alma mater, where she was one of a few “50-year alums,” that Bass cherished most. Annette Sastry, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, said Bass helped generations of nurses start their careers with her personal support.

“A lot of alums fall off after a while, but Sara continued to be active in school activities. She helped start the careers of several generations of nurses,” Sastry said. “We need people like her who are there and who you can call on when you need them. She was an outgoing person; everybody knew her, but she didn’t do things to be showy. She was not always the leader, but she supported things that needed to get done. We surely will miss her vivacious enthusiasm for the school and her undaunted support.”

“Sara Bass has supported the nursing school since she graduated,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. “She was delighted to see that the value of a Vanderbilt nursing degree continued to grow. She was a cheerleader and a good friend to all of us.”

Bass continued to be active, even after moving into a retirement community. At Blakeford, she participated in numerous committees to improve the health and lifestyles of her fellow residents, even leading an effort to begin the facility’s newspaper recycling program.

Bass is survived by her husband, her son and daughter-in-law Allan D. Bass Jr. and Kim Bass of Brentwood; daughter Sara Jean Bass and son-in-law Gale Hoffnagle of Glastonbury, Conn.; and granddaughter Erin Sara Bass, a senior criminal justice major at Northeastern University in Boston.

She requested her body be donated to Vanderbilt in order to further scientific research. A memorial service was held for Bass Dec. 29 at Belle Meade United Methodist Church. The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.