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Ronal Bassham

He was born in Erie, PA. He is accomplished in the area of Community.
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Ronal Bassham was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He is the eldest of the six children of Thaddeus and Peggy Bassham. The Bassham family moved to Buffalo, New York when Ron was a child. He attended Buffalo Public Schools. In 1953, he left Emerson High School at the age of seventeen to enlist in the United States Air Force.

Ron served in Vietnam from 1971 to 1972. For his outstanding bravery and service at Quang Tri, he was awarded The Bronze Star Medal and the U.S. Vietnam Service Medal. He retired in 1975 after twenty-two years of honorable service to his country. During this tour of duty, he had the opportunity to serve on many continents including, but not limited to, Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia.

After his retirement from the Air Force, Ron was sure that he had more to give to the private and public sectors. He began a new career with Harrison Radiator in 1977 and in that same year helped to create the first successful Veterans Committee in the history of the United Auto Workers Union. Ron wanted to step away to provide opportunities for younger workers and retired from Harrison Radiator in 1995.

You would think that all of the above was enough for any one person, but no, Ron has continued to be a community and union activist and during the 1990s helped to write the Living Wage Law for the City of Buffalo. This law has impacted the lives of thousands of citizens living and working in the City of Buffalo. Ron was busy in the 1990s and was instrumental with the Vietnam Veterans' Chapter 681, in opening the first Residential Post Traumatic Stress Clinic in Western New York.

In October 2001, in recognition of his work with the United Auto Workers, Ron was elected to the United Auto Workers Hall of Fame. In May of 2002, Ron had a large leadership role in the "Day of Honoring Event" that honored the minority service people of World War II. At last, these veterans received their long overdue decorations. In 2006, Ron was appointed by the federal government to be the Veterans Administration Volunteer Services Representative for Western New York.

Ron is a member of at least thirty-five community groups. One of his favorites is the Niagara Military Affairs Council (NMAC). In 2005, the Niagara Falls Air Force Base was placed on the Department of Defense closing list. Ron and the NMAC were instrumental in saving this base along with 1000 jobs impacting the Western New York economy.

In 2006, Ron's efforts to support veterans resulted in the Women's Residential Clinic, in Batavia, New York, providing support for female veterans suffering from PTSD. Plans are currently underway to build a larger clinic which was scheduled to have a ground-breaking in 2011 and open in 2012. He has also worked to establish the "Women's" Military Support Network of Western New York to assist women veterans at the Batavia and Buffalo Veterans Hospitals.

In September 2008, Ron's Veteran Affairs Group of Buffalo's Black Chamber successfully introduced into legislation, the Veteran's Cold War Act. This law allows all honorably discharged veterans, who served between September 2, 1945, and December 26, 1991, to receive property tax reductions. They served this country and should not be forced to leave their homes. This act has also been extended to Erie County Veterans, thanks to Ron's advocacy.

Ron actively volunteers in other numerous community programs serving veterans, including annual clothing and fundraisers through the UAW Veteran's Committee. Annually, he also assists with a 5k Run to raise funds for the VA Hospital patients in Batavia, Bath, and Buffalo. To this day, he continues to volunteer with the Veteran's Courts of Niagara County and Erie County.

In 2009, Ron was instrumental in the opening of a veteran's section in Elmlawn Cemetery in Tonawanda, New York. The following year, his work resulted in the reconstruction of "The Veterans Monument" at Northland and Grider Streets in Buffalo. He has also advocated bringing the National Veterans Cemetery to Buffalo and the Western New York area by 2012. The closest federal veteran's cemetery at this time is located in Bath, New York, more than one hundred miles away.

In 2017, Ron had the opportunity to address the historic disparate treatment of African American servicemen and women. He became a founding member of a group whose goal was to create an extraordinary monument to honor these men and women. When asked how he got involved in the monument project, Bassham wishes he could look back fondly on his 22-year Air Force career as a ground crewman. He said, "I'm proud of my service, but I am not proud of the way I was treated.

On September 24, 2022, Bassham attended the unveiling of the African American Veterans Monument in Buffalo at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. The $1.8 million project was built with a combination of state funds, charitable contributions, and business donations and is the first monument of its kind, honoring African American veterans of all wars and conflicts. For Bassham, it was a moment he wondered if he'd ever see. "I did everything [the Air Force] asked me to do, but I was not treated equally," he said. "It's long overdue that people know the truth about what Black people experienced in the U.S. military." When asked what this memorial means to him, Ron says, "It means that America has the chance to see what the minorities have done for this country. Also, it means you have a chance, if you are still alive, you can bring your family down to see it too."

Ronal and his wife Julia reside in Niagara Falls, New York. Ron is a father of eight children and numerous grandchildren. Ron is a living example of "the apple not falling far from the tree". He is the father of a 2000 Black Achiever in Industry Honoree and Uncrowned Queen, Joyce Wilson Nixon, NICYO Executive Director/CEO and proud sponsor of her father for the 1490 Community Organization's Black Achiever in Industry Honoree for 2008.