James Robert Bashore; 1926-2013: ‘Cerebral’ professor empowered students

James R. Bashore Jr.
James R. Bashore Jr.

BOWLING GREEN — James Robert Bashore, Jr., a retired English professor and first director of the honors program at Bowling Green State University, died Nov. 19 at Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green. He was 87.

Mr. Bashore, called “Dr. Bob” by many who knew him, sought medical care after a recent fall, leading to the discovery of an infection that had turned septic, son-in-law Doug Donnell said.

Mr. Bashore was born in Paulding, graduated from Libbey High School in Toledo, and served in the Navy. He earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin and BGSU before earning his doctorate from Wisconsin in 1959.

He joined Bowling Green’s faculty in 1948 as an instructor, the start of a long career as a professor who focused on American literature by greats such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Herman Melville. He also had a deep love for William Shakespeare and a voracious appetite for many other subjects, including science.

“You almost couldn’t engage with him without being given a lecture of some [type]. He was probably the most cerebral person I’ve ever known. He was thinking all the time,” said daughter Dana Donnell of Grand Rapids, Mich. “He just loved telling people about what he had learned.”

In 1953, he married Wilma Granger, with whom he raised two daughters. Mrs. Granger died in 1988, and he reconnected with Lois Wall of Rocky River, Ohio, who became his companion for many years.

Mr. Bashore was named Omicron Delta Kappa’s “Faculty Man of the Year” in 1969, and helped launch the university’s honors program, serving as its first director.

“I think that he appreciated bright kids, and he wanted to help them to find ways of learning at a faster pace or a different pace than ordinary classes ... offered,” said Les Barber, who retired from BGSU after working in administration and in the English department.

Mr. Bashore’s teaching style fostered collaboration, and he sought to empower students, Mr. Barber said.

He made annual trips to Canada to see Stratford Festival theater productions, often persuading others to go.

Mr. Donnell came across a file Mr. Bashore labelled “Kind letters from students” stuffed with appreciative notes from students.

“You read some of these letters, you can just tell he changed their view of college or of education or of literature or how to think,” he said.

He corresponded by mail with people he met on his travels overseas and resisted computers, relying instead on a typewriter.

Surviving are his daughters Dana Donnell and Brooke Bashore; brothers Bruce and Barry, and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at a later date at Grounds for Thought, Bowling Green.

The family suggests tributes to the J. Robert Bashore Scholarship, in care of the Honors College at BGSU.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com, 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.