Wreck claims life of Uniontown councilman Bassett

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A weekend automobile accident has claimed the life of a Uniontown City Councilman.

According to an officer with the Selma State Troopers’ post, Rev. Councilman Terry Bassett, 45, was killed Friday at approximately 2:30 p.m. while traveling on state Highway 183 near Uniontown. The official cause of the accident is still under investigation, although it is believed the accident occurred when a large piece of metal tore free from a tractor-trailer and collided with Bassett’s trailing vehicle.

In addition to his position on the Uniontown City Council, Bassett served as counselor at Uniontown Elementary School and was the husband of Demopolis dentist Dr. Rosalyn Bassett.

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Uniontown mayor Phillip White said Monday that City Hall and all of Uniontown was in a state of mourning.

“It’s just a sad atmosphere. It’s been sad all weekend,” White said. “He is already badly missed by all of us who knew him.”

The loss feels especially immediate, White said, due to the plans he and Bassett had made to visit Washington D.C. together this week.

“We had scheduled to go together to the National League of Cities conference. Both of us and our wives…we were all going together,” White said. “Now all our plans are cancelled. It’s hard.”

White said that one of the most appealing things about Bassett, who had served alongside him on the Uniontown council for nearly five years, was his palpable sense of joy.

“Rev. Bassett carried with him a happy presence,” White said. “You could always feel happier just by being around him.”

That sentiment was strongly echoed by Debra Waller, assistant principal at Uniontown Elementary, where Bassett had been the school’s counselor for “15-plus years.”

“He was always cheerful, always knew just what to say to perk you up,” Waller said. “He was always very encouraging. He didn’t ever want to give up on any child. He always went that extra mile. Whatever it took to save a child, he wanted to do.”

“The faculty and staff are all deeply saddened,” she said. “He was small in stature, but he was a great man, always willing to play his role in helping the school and the community…as he said, ‘children were his business.’ The kids loved him. They liked how he would always listen to them. We’re going to miss him. It’s a great loss.”

A number of counselors, including White, paid a visit to the school Monday to help the students deal with news of the tragedy. Individual counseling was available for students who were in need, Waller said, and the students were encouraged to write a good-bye letter or a poem to Bassett.

“We’ll hang up the letters and poems and make a Wall of Remembrance,” Waller said. “It’ll be our way to say farewell.”

White said that it was still far too soon for the Council to decide how to deal with Bassett’s absence.

“We don’t know,” he said. “We’ll come up with something later.”

White will preside at the memorial service for Bassett, which will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium of R.C. Hatch High School. Bassett will be buried Wednesday in Highland Memorial Garden Cemetery in his hometown of Bessemer, following a service officiated by Rev. Solomon Oliver.

Bassett is survived by his wife of 22 years, Dr. Rosalyn Bassett, who practices dentistry in Demopolis from her office on Cedar St, and their children Terry Jr. and Tenathius.