Woodson W. “Bill” Bassett Jr. (1926-2006)
Born: Okmulgee, Oklahoma, November 7, 1926
Died: Fayetteville, Arkansas, January 10, 2006
Admitted to bar: 1949, Arkansas
Education: University of Arkansas (J.D., 1949)
Positions: Special Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court, 1983; Special Chief Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court, 1991.
Memberships: Arkansas State Board of Law Examiners, 1984-1986;
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers; Washington County (President, 1973-1974), Arkansas and American Bar Associations
Practice Areas: Business Litigation; Civil Litigation; Employment Discrimination Law; Insurance Defense; Insurance Law; Legal Malpractice Litigation; Personal Injury; Products Liability
Biography: Woodson W. Bassett, Jr. was born on November 7, 1926 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, to Woodson W. Bassett, Sr. and Bee Knerr Bassett. Known to all as “Bill”, he grew up and lived most of his life in his beloved Fayetteville, where he raised his family and practiced law for 43 years.
Bill was married to his soulmate of 55 years, Marynm Shaw Bassett, on December 16, 1950. He had one daughter, Beverly Bassett Schaffer; two sons, Woody Bassett and Tod Bassett; and two grandchildren, Eliot Shaw Schaffer and Corbett Clayton Bassett.
He received his education in the Fayetteville public schools and later at the University of Arkansas, where he graduated from the School of Law in 1949. After thirteen years of work in the insurance field, he embarked on a legal career and began practicing law in 1962 when he joined the firm of Dickson, Putman, Millwee and Davis, which in later years became known as Putman, Davis, Bassett, Cox and Wright. In October of 1981, he joined his two sons to establish and build the Bassett Law Firm, where he was senior partner, mentor and leader until his death. He was greatly admired and respected by all those with whom he worked at the law firm.
He set a fine example for other lawyers and was a teacher and an inspiration to many young lawyers over the years. He was widely recognized as an extraordinary trial lawyer, as evidenced by his induction into The American College of Trial Lawyers. He was at his best in the courtroom.
His life, both personal and professional, was marked by much success and many accomplishments, but at his request, they will not be recited. To use his words, “It will suffice to say I grew up hard but married well, fathered three good children and, with little natural talent, worked very hard and ethically to succeed as a lawyer. I lived the best way I knew how and had a good and long life. My wife, Marynm, and my three children are my epitaph, making it important that I lived at all.”