Joseph Basile, U.S. Consul (ret.) and World War II Veteran, was born on August 11, 1921 in New Jersey. His life came to a peaceful and serene end on Saturday December 21st at 8:30 p.m. in his own home, surrounded his loved ones.|
Joseph Basile's early life was shaped by significant events of the time. The youngest son of a family of Italian immigrants, as a young child he experienced the harsh and paralyzing effects of the Great Depression first hand, when his entire family, like many, lost all their worldly possessions and family business. He lost his father at age 9. With this loss, young Joseph started to show the early signs of his developing character, a feeling of responsibility for those he loved (his mother, brothers and sister). He would run from school to do odd jobs for others and return home to present his mother with the pennies he was able to accumulate through his efforts.
At the age of 21, Joseph joined the U.S. army. He was a member of the 8th Battery, 536th Field Artillery Battalion, corporal, and was trained in North Africa to serve in combat in the North Apennines Po Valley. He received the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal for Good Conduct, the European Theatre of Operations Medal with 3 Bronze Battle Stars and the Victory Medal. After the loss of his mother at age 21 while away at war, and once he was honorably discharged from the Army on November 24 1945, he attended Rutgers University and was accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service Department of State.
His goal was to serve his country and United States citizens abroad, and he did so for 38 years, specializing in Consular Affairs work, such as immigration/naturalization, and the safety of US citizens abroad. Over his long career, he served at US Embassies and Consulates in Belgium, India (New Delhi and Calcutta), Italy (Palermo, Rome and Naples), Finland, the United Kingdom, Libya, Sweden and The Netherlands, and was assigned to Washington D.C., where he served on the Vietnamese Task Force responsible for dealing with evacuation efforts of Americans and Nationals from that country.
His career accomplishments and highlights included his work as Consul of the United States to Tripoli (Libya) during the Mid-East war of June 1967 and the Revolution of 1969 when King Idriss was overthrown by Col. Qaddafi and his revolutionary forces. During this time, he was responsible for the evacuation of 5000 U.S. and foreign nationals.
During his assignment to Sweden, the Vietnam War was in the forefront, and often led to marches on our Embassy and demonstrations that had to be dealt with. He received a special medal from the Swedish Police Force for his volunteer work in the areas of Drug and Alcohol.
Joseph Basile dealt frequently with the International Rescue Committee, on refugee matters. Such cases included "Boat people," but also cases involving Iranians who had to flee their country during the Iranian revolution. He led U.S. diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in Naples, Italy during and following the 1980 earthquake that took many lives and left thousands of people homeless. His efforts were to seek out Americans and their relatives, and help all those found, by bringing tents, blankets, foods, ect…
As a result, Joseph Basile was honored with a special medal from the Italian Government for his humanitarian efforts.
"The greatest satisfaction I have gotten from my career has not been monetary at all. It focuses on humanitarian accomplishment and what I have been able to do for people at a given time and under any circumstance, be it during or after a revolution or earthquake, or at the scene of a terrible train tragedy."
Together with his wife Johanna, their curiosity and interest in other cultures led them to meet many a foreign dignitary and fascinating individuals, Tensing Norgei, Corrie Ten Boom, Mother Theresa among others….
Following his retirement, Joseph Basile and the love of his life, Johanna, retired in Paris, France, to remain near their children and grandson. In 1998, the Basiles moved to Houston where both enjoyed many years of building new friendships and watching their grandson grow. Joseph Basile led a full life, a "complete" life. After the loss of his beloved "Annie" (in 2011), Joseph Basile's life changed drastically, but as always, he took on life with his usual amazing attitude, resilience and optimism, and continued on, surrounded with the love of his family.
Joseph Basile is survived by his son Arend Basile, his daughter and son in law Donatella and Leonard Frederick Benckenstein II, and grandson Alistair Frederick Benckenstein.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Anita Major whose professional help and compassionate attitude were unyielding until the very end, to Kindred Hospital and its staff, to Cathy Lewis, his devoted caregiver, Beacon Care (Ms. Laura, Ms. Judy and Ms. Yvonne) and a 'thank you' to Dr. Tom Donneker, from Kelsey Seybold who was his Physician for many years before switching to home care.
In loving memory of a man, one who loved, one who respected, one who truly was a "gentle man," father, grandfather and friend and a member of the "Greatest Generation."
If desired, kindly direct your generosity towards Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 25, 2013