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Robert “Bob” Norris Bassett passed away on his own terms August 29, 2017. Born in San Francisco, CA on April 16, 1937 Bob was the only child of Dr. Garnet and Isobel Bassett. Growing up in San Carlos Bob and his friends rode the hills on their go-karts until high school where he attended Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose. The 45-minute train ride to school ignited his life-long passion for trains.
Drafted in 1956 after graduating high school, Bob chose the Army and became a Military Policeman in Germany. His experiences included boating across the Atlantic with Elvis Presley and traveling all of Europe. A medical crisis overseas resulted in him leaving the Army in 1959.
Upon returning home, Bob began pursuing his college education in California, eventually receiving a scholarship to the University of Montana for zoology. While focused on classes he met his first wife Sonja Wilton at a conference in California, they married in May of 1963.
While on a break from his job at Northern Pacific Railroad Bob and his friends went fly-fishing up Rock Creek. There they found 16 acres for sale and he and Sonja purchased the land and started the Elkhorn Guest Ranch. For those who don’t know Rock Creek it is currently home to blue ribbon trout fishing where many can only fantasize about the water in the 1960s. While building their business they had their first child Craig. They purchased another 160 acres across the road from their home in 1969 while adopting their daughter Robyn.
Sadly the 1979 oil crisis caused business to dwindle so they sold the Elkhorn and moved to Missoula. The marriage did not survive the move and Bob and Sonja parted in 1982.
While managing for Mini-Mart in Missoula, Bob continued developing his hobby of creating layouts for Lionel trains and repairing other folk’s trains. His reputation for meticulous detail and craftsmanship created a unique marked for hand-crafted layout pieces and refurbishments. He made his passions his life’s work.
Bob was ready for a new life partner, when he found a pen pal in Bella Bacani. Bella was from a remote farm town in the Philippines. She was fun, energetic and generous. They wrote hundreds of letters and while she was residing in Singapore Bob flew to visit several times. They married in 1991 and had a son, Robell a combination of the names Robert and Bella.
Bob loved to read, travel, play and listen to music and was an avid photographer of trains and life. His notes and photographs were published in several train magazines and won awards at the State Fair. He passed all these loves on to his children.
Working into retirement Bob traveled frequently with his family and loved time with his grandkids. Bob stayed in phenomenal shape. He smiled for family and probably trains until his last breath on August 29, 2017. Until his last day Bob was passionate, diligent, and grounded with happiness.
Bob is survived by his wife Bella, his children Craig Bassett (Betty) of Missoula, Robyn Turner (Art) of Victor, MT, Robell Bassett of Missoula, his grandchildren Kyle and Kadden Bassett, Cassie Turner and his dog Niki.
A viewing will be held on Tuesday, September 5th at Sunset Memorial Funeral Home from 10:30-1:30 followed by a graveside service at 2:30pm at the MT State Veterans Cemetery on Tower St. in Missoula. Condolences for Bob’s family may be left at www.sunsetfuneralhomecemetery.com
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