Jack Randolph Bass aka Sam Bass passed away on August 28, 2017, at Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, Idaho of a sudden illness, with family members present. Sam was also known as Randy to his family and friends in North Carolina. A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM at the First Church of the Nazarene in Baker City, Oregon with Pastor Tim Fisher of the Elkhorn Baptist Church officiating the service. The interment with Military Honors will follow the service at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Baker City, Oregon. A celebration of life reception will be held at the Eagles Club located at 2935 H Street, in Baker City, Oregon also on Saturday, September 9, 2017 beginning at 12:30 PM.
Sam was born on April 6, 1942 to Jack Homer and Ruby Morgan Bass in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. While Sam was growing up in North Carolina he played baseball and football.
In 1960 Sam graduated from Rose High School in Greenville, North Carolina. He traveled to Los Angeles, California to try out for the Los Angeles Angels. When Sam was not picked for the roster he spoke to a recruiter from the Air Force and in the fall of 1960 he joined the Air Force to be a Radar Technician. He also played softball for them.
Sam was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, Biloxi Mississippi, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska and Baker City, Oregon. When Sam was stationed in San Antonio for basic training he picked up the nick name Sam from his fellow recruits after the famous outlaw Sam Bass.
In June of 1961, Sam was stationed in Baker City, Oregon, for 18 months. This is where he met his wife to be, Nora Colton, on a blind date on September 4, 1962.
On October 29, 1962, Sam married Nora at the Baker County Courthouse, in Baker City, Oregon. After the couple was married Sam was in Reno, Nevada playing softball for the Air Force when Nora gave birth to their first child, Sharon. In October of 1963 Sam was stationed in Galena, Alaska and then St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.
On October 9, 1964 after four years of duty Sam left the Air Force as an Airman second class. Sam moved his family to North Carolina and while in North Carolina, Sam and Nora had another daughter, Karen and a son Jack Jr. Sam worked at Athey Heavy Equipment Builder in Wake Forest.
In April of 1970 after living in North Carolina for five and a half years, Sam, Nora and kids packed up their green Oldsmobile Delta 88 and moved back to Baker City, Oregon. Sam commented several times how he thought Baker County Oregon was Gods Country.
Sam worked at Commercial Welding and they purchased the property on 19th where Sam and Nora still resided.
Sam also worked at Don’s 76 Station, Lew Brothers Tires and Ellingson’s Lumber. In mid 1970’s Sam was hired as the code enforcement officer for the Baker Police Department. Sam later took a job as a Patrol Deputy for the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. When Terry Speelman was elected Baker County Sheriff in 1980, Sam was promoted to Lieutenant.
Prior to Sam’s law enforcement career he was a member of the Baker County Mounted Posse, Baker County Dive Team and Baker County Competition Shooting Team. In 1988 Sam was voted Posse Man of the Year and was the Captain of the Posse in 2002. Sam also instructed First Aid and CPR for The American Red Cross. Over the years Sam coached both girls softball and boys baseball for his Children and Grandchildren for the Baker City Little League.
In early 1985 Sam retired from the Baker County Sheriff’s Office due to medical issues. In 1986 during a family outing Sam was shot in the neck during domestic violence dispute at a local establishment. Sam recovered from the gunshot wound.
After Sam retired, himself, Nora, Jack Jr and his wife Tisha took country dance lessons from Nancy and Chuck Staten. Bob and Vicky Freeman assisted the two on teaching the classes. When Sam started dancing he did not stop. He was known for teaching dancing at the Senior Center, VFW and anywhere, anytime to anybody who wanted to learn. In Sam’s later years, you could always find him where Frank Carlson played. Sam was Frank’s biggest fan! There was always a CD of Franks playing very loudly on his motorcycle and in his pickup wherever he traveled around town, he even wore out two copies of the CD from playing it so often.
Sam was also an avid motorcycle rider. In 1986 he road his 1982 Yamaha Virago back to see his family in North Carolina. Sam then purchased a 1995 Kawasaki Voyager and again rode back to North Carolina in 2005 for his 45th class reunion. Both trips he made by himself.
The day the snow melted off the streets you could see Sam running around on the Kawasaki all over Baker City until the snow came back in the winter. Sam also enjoyed riding the mountain highways with Jack Jr., Tisha, and Sharon.
In 1998 Sam and Nora became the legal guardians of their three grandchildren after the passing of their daughter Karen.
In 2004 Sam was elected to the Baker City Counsel and re-elected in 2008. In October of 2006 he stepped in as Mayor until January of 2007. He also served as vice Mayor from 2009 to 2011.
Sam was best known for the Christmas light display at the Bass residence. Sam and his family decorated for the community for at least thirty years, with hundreds of decorations, if it didn’t move there was a light on it. There has been at least four generations of community members visiting the display. Sam would be out in a Santa hat greeting the people walking through the yard filled with thousands of Christmas lights and characters cut out of plywood along with cute store bought decorations they bought at the end of the holiday season usually on sale.
On August 23, 2017, Sam felt ill so he drove himself to the emergency room where he was later transported by Life Flight to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, Idaho. He spent five days in the Intensive Care Unit and passed away on August 28, 2017. This was the fifth time Sam was transported to a Boise Hospital but he was not able to overcome his heart issues this time.
Sam was preceded in death by his daughter, Karen Bass, his parents, Jack Homer and Ruby Morgan Bass, and in-laws Frank and Lily Colton.
Sam is survived by his wife, Nora Colton Bass, daughter Sharon Bass, his son Jack Jr and his wife Tisha. Grandchildren John and his wife Rebecca Aguirre, Kayce Bass with her companion Jay Gursky, Michael (Scott) Tugman, Samantha Tugman and her companion Paul Hunt, Lilly Bass, great grand daughter, Izabell, and his cat Dini.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals through Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814. Sam was never a cat person till his later years when he and his wife adopted a stray cat that the two named Houdini because he showed up in one of the family's chairs and no one would claim that they brought him home. The past couple of years Sam and Dini had become inseparable, so much so that he called him his dog. Dini would follow Sam anywhere that he went. He would also wait by the road for Sam to return home each and every time he left. Dini is still constantly waiting by the road to this day for Sam to return home.
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