Case Bassie, the man who introduced pickleball to Niagara-on-the-Lake and pushed to have the former Virgil tennis courts resurfaced and converted for the sport, died Feb. 6 at the age of 72.
His death was as a result of two tragic accidents that both caused brain injuries — one he recovered from, the other he did not.
Last April, his wife Brigitte explained, he was discovered lying in a ditch on Line 2, where he had been cycling. He had had a heart attack, and when he fell, he hit his head.
A “good samaritan” came along and managed to resuscitate him, she says. “He crashed three times that day,” she recalls, and was in a coma for some time. He spent six months in the hospital recovering from the effect of lack of oxygen to his brain. But he had worked hard at his recovery and was doing well, and by January was living “the new normal.” Brigitte says he had been playing cards with his friends that afternoon, and later in the day he slipped and fell backwards down the stairs at home, hitting his head again.
“It was just a tragic accident,” Brigitte says. “He was gone within 24 hours.”
Case and Brigitte moved to St. Davids from Haliburton about four and a half years ago.
“When we got here, he said, ‘where’s the pickleball’,” she recalls, “but there wasn’t any.”
He went to the Town to ask about it, and Lord Mayor Betty Disero “was amazing. She helped get it going,” says Brigitte.
A club he helped establish soon had 55 members, and as it grew, he began to push for outdoor courts to make it a year-round sport.
He and Brigitte, who always did a lot of travelling, had had several great trips together in a short amount of time, during the year and a half before his accidents. They had also come to love their St. Davids neighbours, doing some travelling with them. They became a tight community, which was helpful during Case’s recovery, and again since his death, Brigitte says. “They embraced Case, and they embraced me. Their support has been wonderful. It’s a great place to live.”
When the six courts opened in the Virgil Sports Park last June, Brigitte and Disero cut the ribbon. Case was still in the hospital at that point, but he was able to visit them once he was home and see what had been accomplished, not only with the conversion of the courts but with the astounding success and growth of the club.
Brigitte describes him as a man always involved in his community, and always ready to tackle whatever needed to be done. And he loved that people in town embraced the sport that meant so much to him.
But he was also a humble man who wasn’t comfortable with compliments — he would instead deflect praise to others who had been involved, she says.
She has a photo of herself and Disero on the day of the ribbon-cutting for the outdoor courts, she says, which she had printed and framed for Case, and which will be on display the day of the celebration of his life. It will be held April 19 at Navy Hall from 2 to 5 p.m., with tributes to Case at 3 p.m.