No mistaking the impact of Nancy Lee Bass' family

Posted Friday, Mar. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Nancy Lee Muse Bass and her husband, Perry, gave millions of dollars to charities and institutions across Fort Worth and beyond.

But it could be argued that her most enduring contributions to the community where she grew up go by the names of Sid, Ed, Bob and Lee.

In a 1991 Star-Telegram profile, Perry Bass credited his wife with taking care of the home front while he and his uncle, Sid Richardson, were out in West Texas drilling for the oil that helped fuel what became a family fortune that grew to billions.

"Nancy Lee is the one who really had the burden of raising those boys," Perry Bass was quoted as saying.

Those Bass "boys" became as integral to the fabric of Fort Worth as their parents.

On Friday, upon news that Nancy Bass had died at home Thursday night at age 95, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said, "She left an indelible mark in our community as a compassionate leader and as a mother of four boys who would become instrumental in defining Fort Worth's reputation as one of the greatest cities in the world."

An enduring story about Nancy and Perry Bass is the way they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991: by giving $50 million to an array of institutions, from Yale University to Lena Pope Home to First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, where they had married.

Ed Bass followed their example when he turned 50 in 1995, making $6 million in donations toward the arts, culture and medicine. He was also the driving force behind the Bass Performance Hall, the $65 million arts center named for his parents. Its giant limestone angels, whose horns overlook East Fourth Street, have become a landmark for a downtown that the Bass brothers were instrumental in revitalizing.

The renaissance that became Sundance Square is attributed to Sid Bass, who got things started with the Worthington Hotel and the office skyscrapers known as the Bass towers.

Bob Bass helped merge Fort Worth Children's Hospital with Cook Children's and led the public effort to relocate a planned expansion of Interstate 30 farther south of downtown so Lancaster Avenue could be redeveloped.

Lee Bass and his wife, Ramona, have championed expansion of the Fort Worth Zoo and conservation efforts.

Not all Bass projects have been popular or successful. But their influence has been unmistakable -- and overwhelmingly beneficial for this city. Nancy Lee Bass shaped the family that shaped Fort Worth.

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