Robert T. Basseches “Bob” passed away on October 10, 2021 peacefully in his sleep. He deeply loved and was much loved by his family, including his wonderful wife of 63 years, Harriet, and his children K.B. (John Holm), Joshua (Amy Perry Basseches), and Jessica (Carissa Moncavage). He also leaves behind three grandchildren: Jacob, Sophie, and Adam Edward. He was predeceased by his parents, Jacob and Paula, and his brother, Mark.
Bob was born on January 24,1934 and grew up in Scarsdale, NY. He attended Scarsdale High School, where he excelled academically and was an avid member of the golf team. He attended Amherst College (graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in physics in 1955), and Yale Law School (graduating both Cum Laude and second in the class in 1958). His lifelong passion for golf continued as a member of the Amherst golf team. He fully embraced a “work hard – play hard” attitude during school, achieving both scholarly excellence and a jovial, vital comradery with his friends, many of whom remained close throughout his lifetime. During college, when taking a seasonal hiatus from golf, he flexed new muscles and took up boxing for a brief and bruising period; a knock-out punch from the boxing coach abruptly concluded Bob’s short-lived boxing career. Bob was an avid singer and music appreciator, with a robust, melodious voice; he enjoyed singing with the DQ Zumbyes, an acapella group at Amherst, and carried on the tradition during family car trips or after a few cocktails.
Following law school, in the most monumental step in his life, he married his long-time sweetheart, Harriet. Together they settled in Washington, D.C.: Bob achieving the prestigious position of clerk for Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then, for U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, while Harriet went to work at the National Institute of Mental Health, launching her successful and ongoing career as a psychologist and psychoanalyst.
After completing his clerkships, Bob began his well-respected career as an attorney at the D.C. law firm of Shea and Gardner, later rebranded Goodwin. He actively practiced law for the next 58 years. During his expansive law career, his firm and clients benefited from the leadership he provided as the Administrative Partner and Chair of the Executive Committee for numerous terms. Bob’s area of legal specialty was Administrative Maritime Law, and he served as President of the Maritime Administrative Bar Association as well as chair of the American Bar Association Maritime Transport Subcommittee. He was a respected and appreciated mentor to his colleagues at the firm. His achievements were recognized by his inclusion in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and in Best Lawyers of America.
Bob was active throughout his adult life in community issues and was deeply invested in civic concerns at a local level. He served on numerous Boards where his thoughtful opinions, courteous communications, excellent grasp of politics and interpersonal dynamics made him a valuable leader of those organizations, including as the President of Green Acres School in Rockville, MD, and the Chevy Chase Village (MD) Citizens Association. He offered insight and guidance to at least 4 different homeowners associations over many years.
On weekends, when Bob left the law offices, he and Harriet bought and operated Sharmans Run Farm in Sharpsburg, MD, which also served as the family retreat. Some of the happiest and most bucolic times of his life were spent with his family at the Farm, caring for the herd of Charolais cattle, chasing the mischievous Shetland ponies, enjoying the repast from their large garden, and playing board games.
Bob was a man who could move seamlessly from the cattle barn to the art gallery. Inspired by art in many forms, Bob was an active collector of Inuit sculpture and Japanese prints, among other areas. He also had a highly refined and imaginative design sensibility, evidenced by successive and innovative home renovations. World traveling, gastronomic adventures, laughingly sharing flights of single malt scotch and playing golf with Harriet, herself an accomplished golfer and tennis player, were also precious moments in a full, vital life.
In his last years, Bob remained gracious, earnest, brave and dignified, as well as loving and generous. His judgment in matters personal and professional was unsurpassed. He treated all people with a deep respect and courtesy. Bob’s whimsical nature would reveal itself in interjected, understated humor. Bob was a true friend, a caring companion and father, masterful writer and editor, and a brilliant lawyer, upon whom his colleagues, friends and family relied for advice and support. He will be greatly missed by the many people whose lives he has touched.
The internment will be private for the family and a memorial will be scheduled at a later date to celebrate Bob’s life.
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