Eddie Bass died March 26.
His own mark on the Springfield business and journalism community is deep and wide: he was a city editor of the Springfield Leader and Press, he started his own public relations firm, worked in that field for another 20 years and started his own sign printing business in his so-called retirement. He was the long-time contributing editor of the Springfield Business Journal after beginning his contributions to this publication in the early 1980s.
Perhaps most enduring will be the careers Eddie influenced and the lives he touched in the years of editing, mentoring, employing and advising people in Springfield.
He served in the Army Air Corps 1941-45 and was based in Coffeyville, Kan., as well as in the Philippines and occupied Japan. He was a public relations specialist in the Fifth Air Force.
From 1940 until 1953, with the military service intervening, Eddie worked for the Springfield News and Leader. He then struck out on his own and began his own public relations firm, the city's first.
In 1959, Eddie went to work for Hoffman-Taff as director of industrial relations. The chemical company had formerly been a client of his at the public relations firm.
In his 24-year career at Hoffman-Taff (which was bought by Syntex), Eddie served as assistant to the president, vice president and general sales manager.
After retiring from Syntex in 1983, Eddie and his wife Jody founded Signprint, a one-hour printing business.
Eddie's associates and friends were seemingly legion. He shared an early office with John Q. Hammons. He worked closely with Bill Turner of Great Southern Bank, Jack Herschend of Silver Dollar City and John Morris of Bass Pro Shops. Eddie's daughter said he often quoted the maxim "It's not what you know, it's who you know."
"During the 35 years I was the attorney for the Springfield newspapers, I visited with Eddie frequently," said John Hulston. "I don't believe there was anyone in the journalism business who knew the movers and shakers in the area better than Eddie did."
Mary Bass-Rossman, Eddie's daughter, said he was always willing, and even eager, to telephone his large circle of associates and talk about the latest news. "I don't mind, I'll pick up the phone and talk to anybody," she quoted her father as saying.
Bass-Rossman also remembers her father's interest in seeing the advancement of younger colleagues. "His last few years at Syntex, he really was most interested in bringing along the rookies. He was more there as the historian and to teach them how to do it," Bass-Rossman said. Eddie's interest in advancing young careers included women.
That interest extended to his own daughter, whom he coached on her softball team as a youth.
"He really coached us and taught us little girls quite a lot. We got to be pretty good," Bass-Rossman said, recalling her father's games of pepper and tutorials on turning a double play and hitting the cutoff player on throws in from the outfield.
"I learned later that Eddie and Jody (her mother) had an argument about the appropriateness of me taking part in sports. He took my side," Bass-Rossman said.
"I've known Eddie for a long time," said Paula Glossip, senior vice president of Citizens National Bank. "He was a friend of my father's and we had that connection, in addition to a business relationship over the last 20 years. He was always such a positive person, always willing to help. I venture to say I called on him for help a lot more than he ever called on me."
Eddie's mentoring was not a new development in the latter part of his career. It extended to his earliest days.
Bob Glazier, publisher of Springfield! Magazine, worked at the Springfield Daily News in 1947. "Eddie Bass was my mentor 54 years ago, when I began as a cub reporter on the old Springfield Daily News. He was one great guy," Glazier said.
Frank Farmer also had a long association with Eddie, from the time the two were high school athletes on opposing teams.
"From that initial acquaintanceship we developed a friendship that lasted right up until the end," Farmer said. "My father was a reporter and editor with the Springfield newspapers at that time, and I recall seeing Eddie up there. One of Eddie's colleagues at the newspaper, Perry Smith, said Eddie was a bright boy who moved up quite rapidly. He became city editor at a very young age. He was probably one of the youngest city editors at the Springfield newspapers.
"Eddie believed in the old school of journalism. He tried to remain objective. He was one of the last members of the old school," Farmer said.
Bass-Rossman described her father as someone who liked to do things his own way.
"It was kind of like having a grandpa around," said Lisa Rau, a spokeswoman for Silver Dollar City. "He was still a journalist. He wasn't easy he was tough all the way through but always friendly and a real gentleman."
"It was Bill's and my privilege to work closely with Eddie for many years," said Ann Turner, vice president and general manager of Great Southern Travel. "He was not only a tremendous journalist with the highest integrity, but a wonderful person. His death creates a void in our community which will not soon if ever be filled."
(Information for this story was gathered from interviews with Eddie's daughter, friends and colleagues. Invaluable help was provided by a Sherlu Walpole profile of Eddie that appeared in Springfield! Magazine.)
'I don't believe there was anyone in the journalism business who knew the movers and shakers in the area better than Eddie did.'
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