Thank You, Professor Bassett
Former “toads” bid farewell to their beloved teacher and mentor.
By Gerry Boyle '78
Published January 11, 2011
I was looking through my wedding pictures the other day on the computer and came across one of you dancing with me with the Pacific Ocean in the background. I will be forever grateful that you were able to make the trip to Pebble Beach for our wedding. I think my dad was a little upset that I danced with you before I danced with him—I made sure he thought it was just an oversight on my part (but it wasn’t). I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through my senior year at Colby without you.
— Alicia Haines Hammond ’00
I wouldn’t have written anything memorable, nor did my hand ever shoot up to share an insight, but I never missed a class, and through the last 24 years that I’ve taught high school English, I’ve tried to live by your example. Though I wouldn’t flatter myself to say I’ve succeeded, I know I’ve been on the right track for having tried to follow that star.
— Ted Goodrich ’85
Admissions books may talk about the special professor-student relationships at Colby, but they really can’t do justice to what you have brought to my life over the past 20+ years. I just re-read the Anne Bradstreet poem that you read at my wedding. It is still my favorite poem of all time.
— Becky Birrell Smith ’92
I was a biology major but your class was one of my favorite courses at Colby and I continue to love the short story. … When needing books to read following graduation, I often turned to Raymond Carver, Philip Roth, and other authors you introduced me to. Sometimes, I choose a book to escape, only to find it addresses the condition I’m trying to escape from. This was the case when I read Roth’s “The Dying Animal” ~ in 2002 when I was going through chemotherapy and radiation. I don’t remember the full story now, but recall it as painful and beautiful to read.
Thank you, Professor Bassett,
for the gift of the short story, which has helped me through difficult
times in my life.
— Name withheld by request
I’m still living the quiet life up in Northern Michigan with my wife, Carol, and 4-year-old daughter Laney. I was thinking about you this summer as I wrote some marketing copy for a client of mine. Would Robert Frost be horrified or amused that I used “Mending Wall” to help sell woodchippers for a Vermont-based company? If Frost could have gotten a DR Chipper out of the deal, I’m sure he would have gone for it—how else could he keep those trespassing pines and apple trees in line?
— Rich Bachus ’87
I graduated from Colby in 1984 with a double major in English and American Studies. You were my advisor and eventually became much more than that. My father died when I was 15 and, you may not have known this, but you were also a father figure to me, someone who
listened and offered valuable advice, but didn’t sugar-coat anything
and didn’t put up with whining.
— Kathy Coleman ’84
I am still teaching at Oxford Hills High School (chair of the English department, no less) and can tell you that I think of you and your teaching several times a year. You brought to the classroom a passion that, while I try to emulate, I cannot quite achieve. Every year, I tell the story of your class when you would say, “Damn it kids, if there’s one thing you have to remember, it’s this,” after which you would nail the essentials of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bellow or one of the other greats you introduced me to. Of course, I came to find out that there wasn’t just one thing I had to “get,” there were hundreds.
— Brewster Burns ’84