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Eddie Bass memorialized by Business Journal friends

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Eddie Bass, longtime Springfield journalist, PR man and entrepreneur, not to mention a favorite fixture of the SBJ editorial pages, died March 26. Eddie meant a lot to the Springfield community. He was an invaluable resource and contributor to the Springfield Business Journal. Following are remembrances from those who worked with him here.

Eddie Bass was our best friend here at the Business Journal. He encouraged us when we were young. He held my hand when times were hard. He cheered our successes, and he advised us in crises. I used to cry on his shoulder, and he would tell me to just call my "friendly banker." And I did!

His assistance was in terms of action as well as words. There were many times during the late 1980s and early 1990s when I don't know what we would have done without Eddie's writing and reporting. For several years, Eddie Bass provided the only continuity we had in the SBJ editorial department.

He was a journalist of the old school. His writing was clear, concise, always to the point. He was proud and I was proud of his stories and columns. Many of our readers became his trusted sources. All of our subscribers became his readers.

Even though he worked at home, his telephone was often busy. He was making calls, investigating, researching stories. Later he would dictate to his loyal and beloved Jody, who would type up his copy and hand carry it (this was before faxes) over to our office.

I remember particularly that he disdained the word "very." Woe to the so-called journalist who used the intensifier. According to Eddie, a situation was either good, or not good. There was no way in his book that it could be any better by adding "very." That was Eddie, never wasting words.

He never missed a column. He never missed a deadline. Even when he was in the hospital. Even when Jody was so sick. Even the week that she died. Even the week that he died. He always had his column ready.

I worked with Eddie in the early 1980s perhaps as early as 1982 when he and Jody were still operating their Signprint business. He came to me in our old office over the trophy shop on East Sunshine and said that he would trade out stories for some ads for Signprint.

I accepted instantly. It was one of the best business deals I ever made, too. You can read the history of Springfield in Eddie's stories and columns in the years since.

Eddie served on the SBJ advisory council for many years. Along with Curt Strube, Arlen Diamond, Mike Williamson and Elise Crain, he was instrumental in guiding us, in helping us become the paper we are today.

He always had ideas to help us grow. Once an avid golfer, he originated, then wrote and edited, our early Ozarks Open special sections.

Eddie had many friends and admirers, here on staff, throughout the community and around the nation. He was a newspaperman (long with the Springfield daily morning and evening papers, rising from gofer to church news to city editor), and he also once owned and published Daily Events; a corporate public information specialist (he once owned and operated his own PR agency); a small-business man and a sign maker; and a free-lance journalist.

He was our friend. We loved him and depended on him. We'll miss him. We know he will always be close to us, still guiding. Dianne Elizabeth, publisher

In the early '70s, Dan Wheeler, the ad director of Springfield Newspapers, loaned me a book on the subject of marketing and promotion. He told me it was one of the best books on the subject that he had found. I read it and forgot to give it back. A couple of years ago I found the book again and felt the need to go through it once more. Inside I found a piece of paper that said, "Dan, I just finished this book and thought you would enjoy it. (signed) Eddie Bass."

I gave the book back to Eddie, but if I remember correctly, the note was dated 1946. Three years before I was born, Eddie Bass had already finished the book on marketing and promotion. The older you get, the more you realize you have less and less friends left to turn to for advice. I'm proud to say that Eddie Bass was my friend.

Stan Coffman, vice president, sales/marketing

"Hullo. This is Eddie, Clarissa. Are you ready?"

Those are the words I should be hearing right now, the afternoon of March 26. But I will not hear them again.

Since Eddie's wife Jody passed away and before, when she was out of town or ill Eddie would call me to dictate his Reflections column over the phone. But today, instead of his familiar "Hullo," came the news that Eddie died this morning.

So, instead of taking dictation from Eddie, I've been making phone calls to people all over Springfield about Eddie.

And hearing the sorrow and affection in the voices of Eddie's friends, and knowing that he is gone, still, I keep expecting to pick up the phone and hear him on the other end. Because this will be the first deadline he's ever missed. And Eddie would never miss a deadline.

Which is how I know he's really gone.

I will miss you, Eddie Bass for a long, long time.

Clarissa French, copy/section editor

Eddie is greatly missed.

Since leaving my post as executive editor of the Business Journal to become director of product development last year, I have missed Eddie.

I'm sad to think that I will have no further opportunity to know Eddie as well personally as I did professionally. His noble heart, kind wisdom and subtly competitive nature are what I'll remember most.

Each time we took on a new staff writer, Eddie would encompass them with a grandfatherly wing and share his words of wisdom with them, and be inspired in turn. You could watch his vitality escalate over the ensuing weeks as he would be more aggressive and prolific with stories he followed.

And, I'll always miss the lively editorial meetings we had when I first assumed the duties of assigning news stories for the Business Journal.

Approximately half of each of those one-hour meetings huddled around my desk with Eddie and our then staff writer, Laura Bauer, was spent listening to tales of yesteryear.

More often than not, the conversation turned to a berating of some news story recently told without recognition of its significance by some hapless new reporter fresh out of journalism school.

"They don't know Springfield. They have no history!" he would say. "No idea of the magnitude of what has happened." Or, "I can't believe I haven't seen a story about this!"

Eddie persistently reminded us of the importance of the past to both the present and the future. "You've gotta have that link," he said.

I fear we have just lost our most significant link.

Erik Jackson, director of product development

Growing up, I knew Eddie in the context of what might well have been his third greatest love. I'd see him at Twin Oaks playing golf, a passion any of his readers already know about. It was at the Business Journal that I knew Eddie through what I suspect was his second greatest love: journalism. In Eddie's voice there was the unmistakable growl of the eternal editor no guff, no sentiment, just hard reporting and quick writing.

It was three weeks ago when I got to know Eddie through what I am certain was his first love. Eddie's wife, Jody, died in February. When Eddie wrote a column about the death of his first love, he dictated those words over the telephone. It was not an easy column for Eddie to write, but he did so beautifully, respectfully and well. Eddie's copy-room rat-a-tat-tat dictation was interrupted only once by a choked voice and the beginning of tears, though I'm sure there were plenty shed before and after Jody's death.

Now Eddie is gone, and his voice is silenced in these pages and elsewhere. But Eddie's legacy of integrity and generosity will endure longer than any newsprint will ever last.

Paul Flemming, managing editor

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