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Elizabeth (Bette) Bass: Beloved educator and traveler

Beloved educator, traveler, arts patron

Elizabeth (Bette) Bass died at home on December 21, 2020 after bravely fighting cancer.  She was surrounded by the love of her many friends near and far. She was 73 years old. 

She is survived by dear friends Joanne Dierdorff and Gary Overstreet; godson Brooks Dierdorff, wife Melissa and their son, Jack; her many Clymer cousins and godson Michael T. Lisano.

She was predeceased by her parents Elizabeth Clymer Bass and Thomas David Bass; and close friend Maury Durall. Bette and Maury shared a home in Redlands, and then Claremont, for many years.

Born December 2, 1947 in El Paso, Texas, she attended elementary school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lived for a time with her grandparents in Steelville, Missouri, while her mother received treatment for cancer. She graduated from high school in San Mateo, California in 1965, chosen “most likely to succeed” in her class.

She attended the University of Redlands, majoring in communicative disorders, graduating in 1969. She continued her studies at U of R, earning her master's degree and later becoming an adjunct professor. 

During her junior year she spent one semester studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria, igniting her love of travel. She had a variety of jobs to help pay for college and travel, including being a bartender at Jolly Roger in Riverside. She was employed by Riverside city schools, but spent the majority of her career as a speech and language pathologist for San Bernardino County schools. She also worked in many local schools, including Upland Elementary, Valencia and Pepper Tree in Upland. One of her favorite assignments was at the end of her career, working in Chino with preschool students with speech and language needs. 

She was a lifelong learner. She saw the need to speak Spanish to help students and parents, so she studied here then immersed herself in the language, learning in Mexico and Costa Rica. She spoke Spanish as she traveled with friends to Spain, Mexico and Cuba, always working to improve her vocabulary and accent. She fully embraced the life and culture of every country to which she traveled.  

“An amazing friend to many, Bette had a way of seeing through the eyes of love, the good, the positive, the best in everyone,” her friends wrote. “Her generosity of spirit, her respect for all, her warmth and laughter made her a very special friend. She was a wonderful listener and was always honest, thoughtful and articulate in her interactions with others.  She would light up a room with her smile and warmth. Bette had an unwavering positive attitude about life. She was an inspiration to many. As her friend Amy said, ‘Once you were her friend, you were tied together by heartstrings.’”  

She enjoyed all of the arts, and was an avid reader of all genres of literature. She could discuss with clarity and depth the books she had read. She also loved all types of music, especially opera, attending performances in Venice, Madrid, Santa Fe and Los Angeles. She enjoyed summer evenings at the Hollywood Bowl, listening to a variety of music with friends. She also loved plays, holding season tickets to the Taper and Geffen for many years. She collected beautiful art.

Her favorite thing to do was to travel. It was not uncommon for her to be packing for two trips at once. She would return from one trip just long enough to catch up on mail, before she was off on another adventure with a different group of friends. She traveled with cousins, friends from high school, college, and her teaching world. 

“She was a traveler, not a mere tourist, and her beauty and eloquence opened doors and hearts around the world,” her friends shared. “Bette truly cherished and enjoyed adventure, discovering favorite places while lost, interacting with people, uncovering treasures, sharing good food, wine, music, art, history and most importantly, laughter. Bette's curiosity, knowledge, generosity, love of life, and warmth made her a wonderful friend and travel companion. She will forever be missed.”

In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, consider a donation by check to the Elizabeth Bass Student Travel Fund, University of Redlands Advancement Office, P.O. Box 3080 Redlands, CA 92373-0999.

An online memorial site is available to add remembrances and stories at https://www.forevermissed.com/elizabeth-bass/about.

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