Harry W. Bass Jr.

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Harry W. Bass Jr.
Harry Wesley Bass Jr.

January 6, 1927
DiedApril 4, 1998 (aged 71)
Resting placeSparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery
EducationSt. Mark's School of Texas
Alma materSouthern Methodist University
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Mathewson
Doris Wampler Calhoun
Parent(s)Harry W. Bass Sr.
Wilma Schuessler
RelativesRichard Bass (brother)

Harry Wesley Bass Jr. (January 6, 1927 – April 4, 1998),[1] was an American businessman, coin collector, and philanthropist. He was active in the Texas Republican Party during the late 1950s when the state was still dominated by the Democratic Party.

In 1970, Bass and his brother Richard inherited the Goliad Oil and Gas Corporation. Bass invested in ski resorts in Aspen and Vail, Colorado. He was the main developer of the Beaver Creek Resort in Beaver Creek. He also amassed one of the world's great coin collections[2] and served as the president of the American Numismatic Society.

Early life[edit]

Bass was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His father, Harry W. Bass Sr., was a co-founder of the Goliad Corporation and the Goliad Oil and Gas Corporation in Duncanville, near Dallas, Texas.[3][4] He had a brother, Richard Bass.[5]

Bass was educated at the St. Mark's School of Texas, then known as the Texas Country Day School.[6] He attended Southern Methodist University.[6] During World War II, he served in the South Pacific with the United States Navy.[6]


Bass started his career in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for his father's oil and gas companies.[6]

Bass launched a voter data-collection company and served as the finance chairman of the Republican Party of Dallas County in the late 1950s.[3] The company proved to be a financial failure.[3] He was elected chairman of the Dallas County GOP in 1957, but resigned later that year.[7] By 1960, alongside Republican U.S. Representative Bruce Alger of Texas' 5th congressional district, he staged a demonstration against Democratic U.S. Senator (later President) Lyndon B. Johnson when the latter visited Dallas.[8][9] He was a delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention.[6]

Bass co-owned H. W. Bass and Sons, a private company headquartered in Dallas.[3] He also invested in the development of ski resorts in Aspen, Colorado, in 1955.[3] Later, he owned 7 percent of the Aspen Ski Corporation with his brother. He invested in the development of Vail and became majority shareholder of Vail Associates, Inc., with 57 percent in 1978. He served as its chairman by 1979. He expanded his holdings to include Beaver Creek Resort.[3]

Numismatics and philanthropy[edit]

Bass began collecting coins in the middle 1960s.[10] He regularly attended coin auctions.[11]

By 1976, he had invested "millions of dollars" in coins.[10] He added that he had 25 per cent of my portfolio in coins," mostly of which were gold coins from the 19th century to 1933. They were held in a trust.[10] He became a member of the American Numismatic Society in 1966.[12] By 1979, he was its president.[3]

Bass founded the Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation in 1991.[13] One of its goals was to support numismatics.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Bass married Mary Mathewson in 1947.[6] He later married Doris Wampler Calhoun.[14]

Death and legacy[edit]

Bass died on April 4, 1998 in Dallas and is interred at the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Shortly after his death, the Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation was merged with his late father's philanthropic foundation, the Harry Bass Foundation, to form the Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation.[13]

The endowment comes from oil investments as well as the proceeds from auctions of his coin collection.[13] For example, thirty coins from his collection were auctioned in 2014 in Dallas.[15]


  1. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths BASS, HARRY WESLEY, JR". 6 April 1998. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  2. ^ Bucki, James. "Top 5 Famous Coin Collections of All Time". The Spruce. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Heinsen, Lindsay (February 1979). "Owning a Piece Of the Rockies: How Harry Bass got to be king of the mountain". D Magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  4. ^ "Oil Executive Dies In Dallas". The Odessa American. Odessa, Texas. February 19, 1970. p. 51. Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Peppard, Alan; Granberry, Michael. "Dallas exec and mountain climber Dick Bass dies at 85". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Elam, Leslie A. "Harry W. Bass, Jr. Biography". Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "Bass Quits GOP Post". Brownwood Bulletin. Brownwood, Texas. December 13, 1957. p. 8. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Lyndon Bitter At GOP Dallas Rudeness". The Eagle. Bryan, Texas. November 6, 1960. p. 1. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Rude Reception Is Given L.B.J. Friday In Dallas". The Mexia Daily News. Mexia, Texas. November 6, 1960. p. 1. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ a b c Reif, Rita (April 7, 1976). "Coin collectors an optimistic bunch". Corpus Christi Caller Times. Corpus Christi, Texas. p. 25. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. Harry W. Bass Jr., an oil producer who flew to New York to bid on dozens of gold coins at the recent sale, observed the other day that he is not certain what return he has made on the millions of dollars he has invested in coins since he started buying 10 years ago.
  11. ^ "Coin Game Stakes And Players Vary". The Lincoln Star. Lincoln, Nebraska. April 18, 1976. p. 72. Retrieved January 17, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b c d "History of the Foundation". Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths BASS, HARRY WESLEY, JR". nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  14. ^ "30 coins from 19th century to sell at Rosemont auction". Daily Herald. August 7, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2016.

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