Sunday, May 29, 2005

In Memory of Pat Baskin ...

The Midland community lost a good friend - one of its best friends, really - when
Pat Baskin passed away this weekend. There were very few facets of our town, its government, or its society in which he did not serve long and serve well.

He was a both a tireless servant and an inspiring leader in the judicial system, in municipal government, in his church, in the arts, in education and in so much more. Our paths would cross many, many times over the years ... me as a news reporter, he as a newsmaker. It is a testament to the man, and his life and work, that the subject of my reporting was never negative ... it was never about something he was trying to deny, an allegation he was trying to refute, a wrongdoing he was trying to explain away or foist upon someone else.

Like many in the Tall City, and across West Texas, I am thinking back to the first time I met Pat.

In my case, it was on the stage of Midland Community Theatre. It was almost twenty years ago, and we were both in the MCT production of Kaufman and Hart's "You Can't Take It With You." Pat had a starring role as Martin "Grandpa" Vanderhof, the patriarch of a lovably eccentric family ... and he was wonderful. Grandpa's easygoing and accepting nature - his decision to drop out of life's rat race, his ability to see through what we think we're supposed to be, and his encouragement to others to find the courage to do with their lives what they really want to do - found excellent expression through Pat's talents. The result was the enthusiastic reception this loving tribute to non-conformity received ... even here, in this community where conforming is so very, very important.

Me? I was an assistant stage manager, working in the wings ... though I did go on stage, briefly, at the end of the first act, as one of the "J Men" who uncover, then set-off a basement full of fireworks. It was a brief moment, and a single line ... but at least I can say, 'I once trod the boards with Pat Baskin.'

And for that, and for all that he has done for Midland in a long and distinguished life and career, I will be forever grateful.


Pancho said...

Thanks for your comments about Judge Baskin. They have been great friends to my parents..and me for over 40 years. They are also my neighbors, living 5 doors down.

Jeff said...

That's one way that I didn't know Pat. But, from my own experience with him in other areas, I'd be willing to bet he was a good neighbor.