Melvin B. Bassi
Melvin B. Bassi, of Monongahela, died Wednesday, May 2, 2007, at the age of 80. A life more full has never been lived. A career more accomplished has never been achieved. A man more loved by so many has never been seen.
Mr. Bassi is survived by his devoted wife of 58 years, Lillian. His four sons and their wives survive him as well, Brad and Joanie, Keith and Betsy, Neil and Donna, and Mitchell and Florence. He was most proud of his grandchildren, Laura, David and Michelle; Marianne and Michael; Brooke and Kiersten; Ryan and Amy; and John. Melvin B. Bassi was born Nov. 14, 1926, the son of the late Bruno and Clara Bassi. His younger sister, Beverly Green and her husband Jack survive him as well.
His youth was tempered by the Great Depression. Following graduation from Charleroi High School in 1944, he received his father's blessing, covertly slipped away from his mother's objections and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served two years in the South Pacific Theatre. Upon returning home, he attended Washington and Jefferson College and attained a degree in economics with the class of 1949. He went on to the University of Pittsburgh Law School and acquired his law degree in 1952.
In 2006, W&J proudly awarded him the prestigious Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree. At the time of his death, Mr. Bassi was the chief executive officer of a law firm and a bank, both of which he grew simultaneously from one-room offices and meager beginnings into multi-county prestigious businesses providing valuable services to the western Pennsylvania region. For almost 60 years, Mr. Bassi practiced law with a passion for the profession and a commitment to the clients he represented. In fact, on his last day he reviewed documents, dictated a letter and instructed his secretary regarding a case while hooked to an IV inside a hospital room. This was the dedication he brought to everything he engaged.
He was a member of the Washington County Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association and numerous other related legal societies. His law firm, Bassi, McCune and Vreeland, P.C., embraces the character and principles he personified. Similarly, Charleroi Federal Savings Bank reflects his persona. He began as a member of the board of directors in 1958 then quickly elevated to president of Charleroi Federal, a position he held for 37 years until he stepped aside in 2000 and became chairman of the board of directors. He led the bank through a dynamic growth period during this time. He took the institution from a single office in Charleroi to an eight branch, customer-oriented regional bank. A week before he died, he approved plans to break ground for a ninth branch located off the Beau Street exit in Washington, Pa.
In addition to these full-time positions as a lawyer and a banker, he, from time to time, took on countless other roles within the county and the numerous communities he served. He chaired the Washington County Redevelopment Authority from 1956 to 1970. He was the Washington County solicitor from 1981-1995. He accepted an appointment as a Washington County Commissioner in 1995. He served as solicitor for the Charleroi Area School District for 45 years. He served as the solicitor for the Authority of the Borough of Charleroi for almost 20 years. He was president of the Washington County Bar Association in 1974 and served on numerous local and statewide committees within the legal profession and the banking industry.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Mr. Bassi enjoyed athletics. He played football, baseball and basketball in high school, baseball in college and, in 1955, launched his vocation as a football official. For 16 years, he was a well known high school and college official. In 1966, he began an 18-year managerial career in youth baseball. To this day, many of the players he officiated or coached recall fond memories of their association. As the years went on, Mr. Bassi developed special ties with various educational institutions. From 1973 to 1998, he served as a trustee for Washington and Jefferson College. For the following nine years, he served as trustee emeritus. He was a devoted Pitt supporter and recipient of the Golden Panther Man of the Year Award on two occasions.
Mr. Bassi received numerous awards throughout his life, including the Italian Heritage Society Excellence in Law Award, the Mon Valley Mind, Body and Spirit Award and the Mon Valley Sports Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, he was inducted into the Mid-Mon Valley Sports Hall of Fame. In 1998, Mr. Bassi received the highly acclaimed Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Washington and Jefferson College. Most recently, he and Lillian were named by the Washington County Foundation as the Philanthropists of the Year in 2005. Also in 2005, he was elected into the Pennsylvania Association of Community Banker's Hall of Fame.
Despite these numerous awards, accolades and accomplishments, the greatest honor ever bestowed upon him was the genuine gift of friendship he received from everyone he ever met. His life exemplified excellence, and he will be missed by many whose lives he touched. Friends will be received Saturday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. in the SCHROCK-HOGAN FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES INC., www.schrock-hogan.com, 226 Fallowfield Ave., Charleroi. A funeral service will be held Monday, May 7, at 11 a.m. in Christ Lutheran Church, Sixth Street and Washington Avenue, Charleroi with the Rev. Kenneth Schott officiating. Those attending funeral services are asked to go directly to the church. The family suggests that anyone inclined to make a memorial contributions should send it to: Bassi Family Fund, c/o The Washington County Community Foundation, 77 South Main St., Washington, Pa. 15301, to be distributed by the family for community and educational purposes.