”The word got out that this is the old man’s last course,” Bassett said, heading for Lovejoy that morning. “So there’s the physics people, the bio people, the chemists. It makes me feel kind of good that I could pull out a mob this big in my 66th year.”

The course filled quickly despite the rumor that Bassett might be back in the classroom next year as a sabbatical replacement. The acknowledged master of the big lecture, Bassett has attracted throngs of Colby undergraduates to his courses with his stage presence. His backstage generosity has kept mobs of Colby alumni in his life.

When word went out that this article was in the works, the Bassett stories started pouring in. Just a few can be recounted here.

Susan Maxwell Reisert ’86 recalled that Bassett actually dissuaded her from going directly to graduate school in American studies. She did some soul-searching instead and eventually received her master’s degree in divinity from Harvard University. Reisert is now a part-time minister in Waterville, where her husband teaches at Colby.

“Charlie really embodied what I believe a college professor should embody,” Reisert said. “He was just a wonderful advisor.”

Susanna Montezemolo ’97, a researcher for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in Washington, remembered going to Bassett at a time when she was unhappy at Colby. Montezemolo said she was thinking of transferring. Bassett listened, she said, and then didn’t try to change her mind. He simply said he’d do everything he could to help her if she wanted to leave.

Montezemolo decided that if Colby had professors like Bassett, she’d better reconsider.

“That he should be so supportive . . .” she said.

And still is.