Robinson Neil Bass
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Robinson Neil Bass, age 85, is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, the former Clara McDonald; three children, Ann (Peter) Lombard of Weston, Massachusetts, Elizabeth (Steve) Parman of Brentwood and Carolyn (Alex) Grimsley of Scottsdale, Arizona; grandchildren, Mary and Claire Parman, Sarah and Julian Lombard, and Kathryn and Camille Grimsley; nieces, Elizabeth Neil Wells of Manassas, Virginia and Clara Soubry of Copake, New York; and nephews, David Norris and George Norris, both of Greenwich, Connecticut. He is also survived by his devoted companion, Muffin, a rescue dog.
He was graduated from McCallie School in 1945, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1949, and Yale University Department of Architecture in 1953. In 1953, he was graduated from the United States Officers Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and served on active duty in the United States Naval Reserve Civil Engineer Corps with duty stations in Norfolk, Virginia and The Canal Zone, obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.
In 1956, he was employed by the Memphis architectural firm of A.L. Aydelotte. In 1959, he returned to Nashville, joining the architectural firm of Donald F. Steinbaugh and Associates. In 1960, the architectural firm of Warterfield and Bass was established, the work of which included the Belle Meade Tower. He established his own firm, Robinson Neil Bass and Associates, in 1967.
He was one of the four founders of Historic Nashville and served as its first Executive Director. He was instrumental in preserving historic structures along First and Second Avenues, and designed renovations for several of the buildings there. In 1967, he moved his office to 170 Second Avenue North. He was among those whose efforts saved the Ryman Auditorium from demolition. From 1978 until 1982 he served as Preservation Officer for the State of Tennessee.
He was privileged to work on a number public buildings, including the Senate Chamber and House of Representatives in the State Capitol, the Metropolitan Courthouse, the conversion of the Nashville Children's Museum to offices for the Metropolitan Planning Commission, and several buildings at Pickett State Park.
His professional devotion was to contemporary architecture. In his almost 50-year career, his body of work included the Nicholas Hobbs Human Development Laboratory at the Kennedy Center and the Olin School of Engineering, both at Vanderbilt University, the Leah Rose Residence for Senior Citizens, the MetroCenter Teachers' Apartments, the Botanic Hall at Cheekwood, the interior architecture for the principal floors of what was then the Commerce Union Bank at Fourth and Union Streets, the Visitor's Center and Museum at the Hermitage, the United Paperworkers International Headquarters Building, Glencliff Elementary School, and fifteen private residences. Additionally, he held instructional positions at Vanderbilt and O'More School of Design.
He won four national first place honor awards for design. In 1974, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study the Nashville waterfront, which resulted in a proposal for development of that important section of the city. He was privileged to serve six years as a member of the National Design Committee of the American Institute of Architects. In 1997, the Excellence in Development organization presented him with its Lifetime Achievement award.
He was a member of several organizations, including the Old Oak Club at Vanderbilt, the Belle Meade Country Club, and the Riverwood Golf Club in Cape Haze, Florida. He was a communicant of Christ Church Cathedral.
The family would like to thank the following physicians who provided such excellent care through his long illness: Drs. John H. Dixon, William M. Gregg, Richard Light, Robert F. Miller, Jeffrey N. Rottman, and Benjamin D. Womack of Vanderbilt Medical Center and Dr. Walter J. O'Donnell of Massachusetts General Hospital.
The family would also like to thank Tameka Jenkins, Debra Lambert, Linda Lee, and Ramiro Trevino for their many kindnesses.
The service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, February 3rd at 11 a.m., with The Very Reverend Timothy E. Kimbrough, Dean and Rector, officiating. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow the service. Parkers will be available for those needing assistance. Honorary Pallbearers are F. Clay Bailey, John Beasley, Bertram Chalfant, James Cox, Hamilton Hazlehurst, Kem Hinton, Martin McNamara, and Gerry Pring, all of Nashville, and Duncan Buell of Philadelphia, Stanley Lindsey of Atlanta, William Metcalf of Washington, DC, and John Plummer of Knoxville.
For those wishing to send a memorial, the family suggests Christ Church Cathedral or The Elephant Sanctuary, P.O. Box 393, Hohenwald, Tennessee 38462 in lieu of flowers.
Published in The Tennessean from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, 2014