David Robinson Bassett

BassettDavid Robinson Bassett, 93, on December 11, 2021, at Friendly Home in Rochester, N.Y. David was born on September 7, 1928, in Taunton, Mass., to Clarence and Clarissa Bassett. He was later joined by twin siblings, Robert and Elizabeth, and together they attended the Congregational church and the Taunton public schools. In summer, the children attended Camp Lanakila and Aloha Camp in Vermont, where they immersed themselves in camping, canoeing, sailing, woodcraft, and hiking in the Green Mountains and White Mountains.

David began playing the flute at age 9. At 12, he began traveling to Jamaica Plain to study with George Madsen, flutist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He continued his flute playing in the Boston University Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler.

David graduated from Harvard in 1949 and entered Medical School of Tufts College later that year. At the end of his freshman medical school year, he participated in a summer workcamp in Mexico, sponsored by American Friends Service Committee. While in medical school training at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., he met Miyoko Inouye, who had just completed her medical school training at Temple Medical School in Philadelphia. David’s future bride and her Japanese American family were placed in internment camps during World War II. By the end of the war in 1945, her family had resettled in Philadelphia. David and Miyoko were married in 1953 under the care of the Westtown (Pa.) Meeting.

A Quaker pacifist, David was a conscientious objector. In lieu of being drafted into military service, he was assigned to the American Friends Service Committee project in Orissa (now Odisha), India, in 1955. He and Miyoko traveled with their newborn daughter, Helen, to India where they spent two years doing public health work in a rural community.

In 1957, the family returned to Philadelphia and resumed medical training. Their son, David Jr., was born in 1958, and daughter, Joanna, was born in 1959. During this time they attended Quaker meetings in Philadelphia and Swarthmore.

From 1963 to 1968, David worked with the Hawaii Cardiovascular Study at Queen’s Hospital, Honolulu, researching the prevention of cardiovascular disease in Japanese and Chinese men who immigrated to the United States. The Bassetts were members of Honolulu (Hawaii) Meeting.

David joined the Hypertension Division at the University of Michigan Medical School in 1968. David and Miyoko joined Ann Arbor (Mich.) Meeting and were active in the community. Given his conscientious objection to military service, David extended his thinking to the area of conscientious objection to payment for war. They worked with others to write the World Peace Tax Fund Bill which was introduced in the U.S. Congress. This would allow individuals who were conscientiously opposed to war to pay a portion of their federal tax to peaceful organizations instead of the military. This became his life’s work, advocating for passage of the World Peace Tax Fund Bill (later called the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund Bill and the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act).

In 2005, David and Miyoko moved to Rochester, N.Y., and became members of Rochester Meeting. After Miyoko’s death in 2007, David married Nan Gullo Richmond in 2013. David is especially remembered for his curiosity, love of classical music, pacifist principles, and his desire to learn about other people’s life stories.

David is predeceased by his first wife, Miyoko Inouye Bassett, and brother Robert Bassett. He is survived by his wife Nan Gullo Bassett; three children, Helen, David (Laura), and Joanna; six grandchildren; one stepdaughter; two step-grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; and sister Elizabeth Wolf.

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