June 21, 1926 - February 6, 2021
Sacramento, California - George Donald Basye died February 6, 2021, at the age of 94. He is survived by Mary Alice, his wife of 68 years, and children Anne, Jennifer Basye Sander (David Padgham), John (Nina Foster), and Paul and grandchildren Dr. Alex Limanowski (Melisa), Julian and Jonathan Sander, and Lily Basye.
George was born in Porterville, California, to Allen G. and Lucy (Turney) Basye, joining older siblings Jeanne and Robert. While attending Porterville Union High School, George and friends formed a band that played for Tulare County dances until its members were drafted. He served in the US Navy in its V-12 Officer Training program at the University of Washington and as Seaman Second Class Musician Striker for the Navy band. After the war he finished his education at the College of the Pacific, where he met Mary Alice Johnson, who was attending its inaugural Music Camp. Following his graduation he studied for a year at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. He hitchhiked around Europe before coming home and going on the road with the jazz trio the Krazy Kats, his string bass strapped to the top of the car, playing clubs as far north as Great Falls, Montana, and as far east as Texarkana, Arkansas.
In 1951 he enrolled in Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated at the top of his class and was elected to the honorary legal society the Order of the Coif. After marrying Mary Alice in 1952 and receiving his JD they returned to Sweden where he completed the research for his LLM at the University of Uppsala. In 1955 he joined Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer in Sacramento, becoming a partner in 1958 and specializing in water and natural resources law. He represented the California Central Valley Flood Control Association and over 30 reclamation, levee, water, and irrigation districts and mutual water companies in the Sacramento Valley. He was actively involved in negotiations leading to the water right settlement agreements between the Sacramento River water users and the United States in 1964. He formed the North Delta Water Agency and negotiated the agreement in 1981 between that Agency and the State of California, protecting water quality and uses within the northern half of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. He liked and respected his clients and regarded them as friends.
Following the example set by his father, he was active in civic and historic organizations, serving as president of the Sacramento Metropolitan YMCA, the Rotary Club of Sacramento, the Sacramento Symphony Association and its Foundation, the Crocker Art Museum Association, the California State Historical Society, and the California State Library Foundation.
When he retired in 2005 after 50 years of law practice, he wrote "Battling the River: A History of Reclamation District 108". He and his upright bass began sitting in with the Rotary Rooters and annual Traditional Jazz Festival sessions. He and Mary Alice traveled extensively all over the US, Europe and Asia, including the Antarctic.
George was predeceased by his parents, his sister Jeanne Basye Eckard of Porterville, his brother Robert Basye of San Diego, and his cousin Louise Turney Reardon of Sacramento.
George had good health until his last year and his gentle and caring personality remained to the end. He was cared for by family members and devoted caregivers Betty Taliauli and Siu Green. We are grateful beyond words for their help and for Stephanie Smith and the Sutter Hospice team. A family graveside service is planned for this summer.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on Feb. 21, 2021.