Thomas's Story

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Thomas D. "Buddy" Bass of Suwannee County died peacefully in his sleep at his home on Dec. 24, 2016 following a lengthy illness. In the months and weeks prior to his passing, Buddy had been surrounded by family, friends and caregivers and his heart was full of love and faith despite his failing body.
Buddy leaves behind his devoted wife of nearly 60 years Vivian Bernheim Bass; children Teresa Bass Vidrine (Grant), Thomas Bass, Jr. (Betsy) and Peri Bass Pinto (Keith); grandchildren Thomas McKinley Bass (Erin), Jay Vidrine (Isabel), Benjamin Bass, Eric Vidrine (Courtney), Christopher Pinto (Jill), Rachel Pinto O'Reilly (Colin), Ethan Thomas Pinto, Ryan Vidrine (Christina) and Katelin Pinto; and great grandchildren Rylee Bass, Caleb and Sofia Vidrine, Kieran and Lary Quinn O'Reilly and Alexandria Pinto; sister Betty Jones, brother Andrew J. Bass III, sisters-in-law Barbara (Bernheim) Gustafson, Betty (Linton) Bernheim and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by beloved infant son William Andrew Bass, brothers Curtis, Theron, Claude Reece and Winton Bass, mother Alma Law Bass and father Andrew J. Bass, Jr.
Following his graduation from Suwannee High School in 1952, Buddy pursued his childhood dream of flying and was accepted into the competitive Aviation Cadets training program of the United States Air Force where he became a pilot. His 20 plus year career as an aviator fueled a lifetime of fascinating stories of his experiences flying the F86, F100, B52 and F111B. His distinguished career included flying over 200 B52 bomb run missions over Viet Nam, becoming Chief of the First Combat Evaluation Group for the F111B and receiving numerous commendations and awards including the, the Meritorious Service Medal, five Air Medals and the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Ribbon with bronze star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign ribbon. For Buddy, the sheer joy of flying was reward enough and he loved to share that pleasure by taking friends and family for Cessna flights from the Suwannee County airport.
In addition to flying, Buddy enjoyed a love of the outdoors where he hunted, fished, played golf, coached Little League, water skied, bird-watched, piddled at gardening, played with his grandchildren and tossed a ball for his numerous much-loved dogs throughout the years. His love of nature was also expressed through his artistic talents of wood carving of which his favorite subject was ducks and oil painting through which he depicted his fondness for both the Suwannee and Kenai (Alaska) Rivers where he boated and fished for catfish and salmon respectively.
Buddy loved to make people laugh and he joked, played games and told stories right up until the end. He was serious about being grateful to His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, however and found that this faith was fed most fully through his attendance at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and in his nightly prayers and Bible readings with his faith-filled wife, Vivian. His favorite hymn, "Amazing Grace", was the anthem of his life as he indeed was once lost but became found. It was his love of flying that helped him find his faith and the words of his favorite poem say it all.
High Flight by John Gillespie McGee, Jr.

 "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth?
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;?
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth?
of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
?You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung?
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,?
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung?
My eager craft through footless halls of air....?
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
?I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
?Where never lark, or even eagle flew ?
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod?
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
?- Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

Please sign the guest book at www.danielsfuneralhome.com
Daniels Funeral Homes & Crematory, Inc., Live Oak & Branford, FL in charge of arrangements.
Published on December 30, 2016
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