Ouida Bass (1925 - 2012)

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Ouida Woody Bass


Ouida Woody Bass died at home on September 21, 2012. Visitation will be on Sunday evening from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. at Oak Ridge Hall, St James' Episcopal Church. The funeral service will be 10:30 a.m. on Monday, September 24, 2012 at St James' Episcopal Church. Sebrell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Ouida Elizabeth Woody was born June 12, 1925 in Tchula, Mississippi, where she spent her formative years with brief moves to Bunkie and Saint Francesville, Louisiana. She was the daughter of the late Wells Waynic Woody and the late Ouida Fullerton Woody. Upon graduation from Tchula High School, Ouida enrolled in Belhaven College in the fall of 1942 to study voice under Mignonne "Miss Non" Caldwell. She was a member of the Belhaven Octette, served as president of the Belhaven Choir, and performed several times as the lead soprano on the annual Singing Christmas Tree. She was elected May Queen her junior year, and as a senior she sang in the inaugural production of what is now the Mississippi Opera, Cavalleria Rusticana. After graduating from Belhaven in 1946, Ouida enrolled in the graduate music program at Louisiana State University. While at LSU, she met her future husband, John Bass, who had returned from overseas service in the army and was studying engineering there. She took time off to study voice with Estelle Liebling in New York City; while there she sang at Radio City Music Hall and served as understudy for leading roles. She returned to LSU in 1949 to complete her MA in voice and opera, performing leading roles in opera productions there and teaching music privately in Baton Rouge.

Ouida and John moved up their marriage plans when John was recalled to active duty in 1950. After marrying they moved to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, and Ouida continued her singing with the Fort Smith Little Theatre. They moved to Fort Bliss, Texas before John was sent to Korea in the fall of 1951. While John was overseas, she lived in Baton Rouge where she taught voice and worked at various singing jobs. When John returned from Korea they lived briefly in Baton Rouge and Jackson, TN, before settling in Jackson, Mississippi in 1956. Ouida became the leading soprano for the Mississippi Opera, performing leading roles in La Boheme, La Traviata, Gianni Schiccihi, Faust, and supporting roles in several other productions. Ouida also sang with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra and at the Mississippi Arts Festival. She began teaching voice at Belhaven College in 1961 when "Miss Non" Caldwell became ill, and was awarded Faculty Emeritus upon retiring in 2000. She worked tirelessly for the Jackson Ballet for many years, and served as guild president. She and John raised 3 daughters.

Ouida is survived by her husband, John of 62 years; daughters Ouida Bass Holland (James) of Jackson, MS; Joanna Bass Roberts (Joseph) of Jackson, MS; and Adrienne Bass Hillyer (Bruce) of Memphis, TN. She is also survived by 8 grandchildren, who affectionately called her Sissy, her childhood nickname: Robert Holland and David Holland of Jackson, MS; John Roberts of Los Angeles, CA; Jason Roberts of Nashville, TN; Jennifer Roberts of Jackson, MS; Rainey Hillyer of Nashville, TN; and Barry Hillyer and Sam Hillyer of Memphis, TN. She was preceded in death by her parents and her 2 older brothers, Wells Waynic Woody of Santa Cruz, CA and Franklin Middleton Woody of Baton Rouge, LA. Memorials may be made to St. James Episcopal Church,3921 Oak Ridge Drive, Jackson, MS 39216; to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, 5221 Greenway Drive, Jackson, MS 39204; or to your favorite local animal shelter.


Published in Clarion Ledger on Sept. 23, 2012
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