Bass, Robert A. (1926-2002)

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 12/07/2002
  • Essay 7595

Robert A. Bass was one of Washington state's first African American school principals. He was an advocate for diversity and equal educational opportunity in the school district. He and his twin brother Roscoe, also a Seattle educator, were strong advocates for the education of Black children.

Robert Bass was born in Pittsburg, Kansas, on March 2, 1926. He earned his bachelor's and Master's degrees at Kansas State Teacher's College, and served in the Pacific during World War II.

He came to Seattle in 1957 and accepted a teaching position at the Luther Burbank School on Mercer Island. There he eventually became head teacher. He joined the Seattle Public Schools in 1963 as counselor at Franklin High School.

His service to the district included:

  • Vice-Principal at T. T. Minor and Van Asselt Middle Schools;
  • Principal at Harrison (now Martin Luther King), Stevens, Madrona, and Gatzert Elementary schools;
  • Seattle School District's first Intergroup Relations Coordinator.

During the 1970s he was assistant professor at the University of Washington. There he headed a program designed to attract and train minority teachers.

Even after his retirement in 1991, he was constantly searching for ways to close the achievement gap between Black and white students. He often spoke to the Seattle School Board, and he served on the board that managed the Youth Service Center, King County's juvenile-justice center.

On November 24, 2002, Bass died at the age of 76.


Elizabeth Rhodes, "Robert Bass, Seattle Pioneer in Education Dies at Age of 76," The Seattle Times website accessed on December 7, 2002 (; Deborah Bach, "Distinguished Educator Fought for Equality in Schools," Seattle Post-Intelligencer website accessed on December 7, 2002 (

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You