Otis Ray Bass was born on May 9, 1929, in Anson, Texas to Ophia and Shorty Bass. He was the third of six children, five boys and one girl. In 1944, the family moved to California for Shorty’s work but ended up back in Texas in 1953.
Shortly thereafter, Otis met Margaret Vaughan. They married on April 2, 1955, in Midland, Texas. The couple had two children, Terri and Gary, and remained in Midland until 1969 when they moved to Amarillo. Otis’s job for the Nunn Bush Shoe Department transferred him to Amarillo where he managed the Blackburn’s store on Polk St. for many years.
A man of many interests, Otis was known to race cars and dirt bikes. He was a proud owner of a 1932 Ford coupe, named “Mr. B”, that he raced at the Midland Dragway. He was an artist who created many treasures including Native American memorabilia, like peace pipes. He painted rocks, whittled wood, made knives, and much more. He was even known as “Ray Yellow Hair”. He loved to fish and dance.
In fact, in 1990 Otis met Othelia Clark at a local honky-tonk. “T” as we know her, was given the name by Otis. They married on June 11, 1994, at Lake Greenbelt. Otis joked he finally landed his prize ‘catch’ with T. He also gained two sons, Chris and Tracy. Shortly after the wedding, Otis went into “semi-retirement” where the couple took RV trips to New Mexico, Colorado Springs, and Yellowstone National Park, staying overnight in the Wal-Mart parking lots. They also enjoyed their cabin at Lake Greenbelt for over 25 years. They would fish, fry the fish they caught, and host many friends and family. Otis loved taking the golf cart around, visiting with anyone who would talk. He never met a stranger. Not one to sit still for long, Otis and T learned a new skill, the ‘art of wallpapering’. He was also known as “The Lawn Mower Man” on Dumas Drive where he fixed all types of mowers until his retirement at the age of 90.
The family remembers fishing, sleepovers, and playing cards. Breakfast included cold pizza with sugar on it, a ton of Watermelon Seed Wars, and Dancing in the living room. Papa would show the grands ‘how to do it’ on the jet skis even at the ripe old age of 65. Papa loved taking the littles out for rides on his riding lawn mower and golfcart in his back pasture. He loved to watch motocross, building just about anything, and sharing those passions with his family.
Otis was full of life with a huge heart. He was always willing to help anyone in need and never expected anything in return. He used to tell all the kids his missing pinky finger was because he stuck it up his nose and a booger bit it off. In fact, this very statement made sure his granddaughter, Kadee, never picked her nose. He loved to joke but not as much as he loved his family. He always made time for them, and you never doubted his love. He was even known to call you on your birthday and sing happy birthday to you himself. The first time you met Otis, it was as if he’d known you for years. He was able to connect with anyone and make sure they immediately felt comfortable. He had a welcoming spirit and heart that will forever be missed.
Otis is survived by his wife, Othelia Bass; two brothers, Jess Bass of California, Jerry Bass of Bastrop, Texas; his children, Terri Van Doran and husband Dusty, Gary Bass, Chris Clark, and Tracy Clark all of Amarillo; grandchildren, Cody Bass and wife Ashley, Jared Davis and wife Kimber, Leah Bush and husband Shane, Kadee Merrick and husband Teel, Nick Van Doran and wife Blair, and Finley Clark, as well as 10 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations to your favorite charity in Otis’ name.
A Memorial Service celebrating Otis’ life will be at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 18, 2023, at Saint Stephen United Methodist Church, 4600 S. Western St. in Amarillo, Texas.