By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun
11:32 PM EST, December 7, 2012
Lionel L. Bass Jr., a retired Bethlehem Steel general foreman and decorated Korean War combat veteran, died of cancer complications Dec. 2 at his Timonium home. He was 82.
The son of Lionel L. Bass Sr. and Barbara Ellen Grebner, he was born in Baltimore and lived briefly in the family's Highlandtown home. His parents died of tuberculosis. He was born with the disease and spent his first four years as a patient at the old Baltimore City Hospitals at Bayview.
"He never learned to talk until he was 4 years old," said his daughter, Deborah Bass Bowden of Timonium. "When he saw a bird, he didn't know what to call it."
After his recovery, he spent some of his youth at the Boys' Home Society on Linden Avenue, where he was the youngest resident, and also lived in foster homes. He recalled rising early and making lunches for older Boys' Home residents.
"His life in the foster homes was not great, but my father never held a grudge and he said that in many ways his foster parents were good to him. He spent his summers on a farm in Centreville on the Chester River and learned to do chores and milk cows," his daughter said.
She said he and his brothers attended the Polytechnic Institute's "A" course. He left Poly early and later earned his GED.
At age 17, Mr. Bass joined the Marine Corps and served aboard the USS Missouri in the Pacific. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division and was a machine gunner and worked in a security patrol for Gen. Lewis "Chesty" Puller. He fought in the battles of Chosin Reservoir and the landing at Inchon.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for "extraordinary heroism" and an Army Presidential Unit Citation with an Oak Leaf Cluster. He served as a White House guard and was a sergeant when he left the service.
Mr. Bass then earned his bachelor's degree in engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. Through friends, he met his future wife, the former Frances S. Terzoni.
"On our second date, at a New Year's Eve party, he asked to marry me," she said. "I told him he needed a psychiatrist."
Mr. Bass joined the Bethlehem Steel Co. at Sparrows Point and became a general foreman in the plate mills. He retired nearly 20 years ago.
Mr. Bass and his family lived for many years on Halstead Road in Hillendale.
"My father could fix anything and would do anything for his friends and neighbors. There wasn't a washing machine in Hillendale he didn't work on," his daughter said.
She said he kept a toolbox and tire inflater in his car trunk at all times and often stopped on the highway to help stranded motorists.
"It was like he was always on call," his daughter said. "He would drop everything to help someone. He also took the elderly to their medical appointments. Being a former Marine, he was not afraid to speak up in a hospital emergency room if he felt someone was not being treated promptly. He lived his life by the Golden Rule."
In retirement, he and his wife attended Marine Corps reunions.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane in Cockeysville.
In addition to his wife of 56 years and his daughter, survivors include a son, Lionel L. Bass III of Cockeysville; another daughter, Susan Bass Myers of Norrisville; a brother, Irvin Bass of Norton, Va.; and six grandchildren.
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