Jack Rodgers Basden, 89, died on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, following a battle with colon cancer.
He leaves his wife of almost 54 years, Suzanne Basden; his son, Glenn Basden of Elk Grove, California; his daughter, Mary Ellen Simoni of Dubai, United Arab Emirates; his grandchildren, Olivia, Nathan, Sophia, and Alexander; and numerous close friends.
Nicknamed “Smiling Jack” by many, he was known as quite the character. There never seemed to be a moment when there wasn’t a grin on his face. He made a lot of friends over his lifetime, many of whom came long distances to see him again in his last moments. He was a wonderful father to his son and daughter, and a committed and affectionate grandfather to his grandchildren, who all adored him. He loved good scotch, was a peanut butter aficionado, and could never pass up a good chicken fried steak.
Raised in Lincoln, Arkansas, he attended the University of Arkansas until he was drafted during the Korean War. He volunteered for the Air Force preemptively and spent four years loading nuclear bombs on B52s in Alaska and Guam. He returned to finish his Mathematics degree before he was recruited to work at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
He was one of the first adopters of early computers and ended up writing code in machine language for the navigation and weapons delivery avionics for the A6 and A7 Intruders. He was very smart, a whiz at puzzles, and had an 18-year winning streak in the SWAMI college football betting pool. He golfed his whole life and, until he developed cancer at 88, he had no health issues at all.
Jack Basden was a tenderhearted soul, full of joy and generosity, putting himself before others at every opportunity. He was loved by all who came in contact with him, and will be deeply missed. Heaven has gained a truly wonderful man.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions in his memory to Doctors Without Borders.
The family will be hosting a Celebration of Life from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, at Lugo’s Grill, 908 N. Norma St. The family invites the public to come and share memories with family and friends.