Gene Basset, age 95, of St. Peter, passed away on Thursday, November 24, 2022. Services will be held at 11:00am on Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the Gustavus Arboretum (Parking in Lots M & N, near the Interpretive Center) with visitation beginning at 10:00am. St. Peter Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Gene Basset was born on July 24, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York. He lived there until he was seventeen years of age and attended the High School of Music and Art, one of the first pilot schools in the United States. At seventeen he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served, mainly in the Aleutian Islands, for two years from 1945-1946.
He attended the University of Missouri for two years and received a B.A. from Brooklyn College. He also attended Cooper Union, Art Students League, and Pratt Institute.
Gene began his newspaper career in 1950 at the Indianapolis Times as a sketch artist and sports cartoonist. He remained there until 1953 when he returned to Brooklyn to work for the Brooklyn Eagle (where Walt Whitman was once the editor) as a sports cartoonist and theatrical caricaturist. He remained there until 1954 when he went to Boston to join The Boston Post as its sports cartoonist. When the Boston Post folded in 1957 he spent a year working for the Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor. In 1958 he joined the staff of the Famous Artist Schools in Westport, Ct. He remained there until 1962. During that period he served on the zoning board of Ridgefield, Ct. In 1962 he left Connecticut and became the political cartoonist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Shortly afterward, Scripps-Howard Newspapers, based in Washington D.C. hired him as their chief political cartoonist. He remained in that position until 1981. He went to Vietnam in 1965 to cover the Vietnam War for Scripps-Howard.
In 1981 he married the love of his life, Ann Komatz. The couple moved to Atlanta, GA where Gene was the political cartoonist for The Atlanta Journal until he retired in 1993.
In 1963 he was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize and in 1964 received The Population Institute first prize. He was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists and served as its president.
In retirement the couple moved back to St. Peter, MN where Ann’s family lived. They took over 70 beautiful acres and a black walnut tree farm which Gene enjoyed caring for with his beloved Bouvier de Flandres, Piet. During this period he did some cartooning for The Mankato Free Press and won several prizes in the state of Minnesota.
Surviving are his devoted wife of 41 years, Ann; his sons, Roger of Denver, and Brian (Bobbi) of Seattle; grandsons, Trevor (Gaewyn) and Keegan Basset of Seattle; honorary grandsons, Griffin, Stephen, and William Rooke of Rochester and their much-loved parents Dr. Thom and Julie Rooke; brother-in-law, Tom (Karen) Komatz; nieces, Sara (Jeff) Strand, Kathy (Chris) Gasta and Elizabeth (Jeff) Jackson.
Preceding him in death was his daughter-in-law, Char.