Tonya Jean Bassler

November 27, 1940 to December 27, 2017


Born in Wichita, Kansas to parents Dorothea and Lester Kurt, Tonya was a remarkable lady with numerous talents, interests, and community contributions. After spending a year at the University of Vienna, in 1961 she met future husband Gerhard at University of Kansas, where she received degrees in Personnel Administration and Political Science, belonged to sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, and was awarded membership into the honorary national academic society Phi Beta Kappa.  She passed the US Foreign Services Exam and in 1964 she and Gerhard married.  The next year they moved to Newfoundland and she loved her life here.  Intelligent, energetic, and social, while raising four children she edited eight of Gerhard’s books, co-founded the German Saturday School at MUN (Memorial University of Newfoundland), and co-founded WAMUN (Women’s Association of MUN), serving as President several times from 1968 to 2009, chairing the Scholarship Committee, and acting as convenor for the art appreciation and fiction book groups.  She and Gerhard were self-taught organic farmers in St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s Bay and she became skilled at cheese and butter making, German cuisine, knitting, quilting, and sewing.  When her children were older she received her B. Ed. at MUN and taught Adult Basic Education and then English as a Second Language, serving as president of TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language Newfoundland).  Tonya encouraged a strong love of music in her family and was an avid supporter of the arts, including the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Kiwanis Music Festival, where she volunteered for years.  Loving, creative, and organized, she was admired and loved by many people in countless circles.

She loved her large family very much, and they adored her: husband Gerhard; children and spouses – Elisabeth Bassler and Karl Hammond; Heidi Bassler and Todd Newman; Christine Aubrey-Bassler and Kris Aubrey-Bassler; Paul Bassler and Sarah Bassler; 11 grandchildren – William, James, and Emma Hammond; Adam and Anna Newman; Maggie, Charlotte , and Kurt Aubrey-Bassler; Julia, Timothy and Alex Bassler; her brother Tom Kurt and wife Carol Kurt; nieces Johanna, Gretchen, and Erika Kurt; brother-in-law Juergen Bassler and wife Marianne Bassler.   Tonya leaves more family and friends in the United States, Canada, and Germany.

Resting at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road on Friday, December 29th from 7 – 9 pm and Saturday, December 30th from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 pm.  Funeral Service will be held on Monday, January 1st, 2018 at 2:00 pm from St. David’s Presbyterian Church with interment to follow at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Terry Fox Foundation for Cancer Research or the Palliative Care Unit, L.A. Miller Centre, St. John’s.



7-9 p.m. on December 29, 2017

2-4 p.m. on December 30, 2017

7-9 p.m. on December 30, 2017

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
View on Map


2:00pm, Monday January 1st

St. David's Presbyterian Church

Interment - Mount Pleasant Cemetery

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I am saddened to read about Tonya’s passing. I met the Basslers in the early 1990s when I was a student at the Memorial University of Newfound, where Gerhard taught me a scintillating graduate seminar on migration history and he, along with Tonya, showed me enormous kindness and support throughout my two years in St. John’s. I was privileged to be their Thanksgiving guest in October 1992 and to meet all their children for the first time. Tonya picked me up and Gerhard dropped me off – all in drenching snowfall. I remember Tonya as a kind and warm person, who would go out of her way to care for others. This is a major loss to this lovely, close-knit family, but such a time comes inevitably, at some point. My heartfelt condolences to the Basslers. Thank you, Tonya. I will never forget.

Gerhard, Elisabeth, Heidi, Christine, Paul, Our condolences to your family for the passing of Tonya. She is at peace with her dear mother Dorothea. My prayers are with you.

Kind regards,
Philip Gufler

Heidi & Bassler Family;

I share my condolences on the passing of your dear mother. May all the precious memories of your mother comfort you and help you through this very difficult time in your lives. May you keep your mother with you in your hearts always.

With deepest sympathy,
Nick J Kelly

So sorry to learn today of Tonya’s passing. It was a pleasure to get to know her through WAMUN. My sympathy is extended to your family.

Our condolences to Liz and Karl and the whole family. Sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

I knew Tonya through WAMUN for many years, especially the book club. As so many have said, Tonya was a lovely and gracious person. I am sorry I was away and unable to pay my respects. My condolences to all her family.

Mr. Bassler, Elisabeth, Heidi, Christine, Paul and families,
My deepest condolences for the loss of a beautiful woman, wife, mother, grandmother. I shall always remember Mrs. Bassler as a very warm and kind person who always had a smile for everyone she met.

Doreen Dobbin-Cummins

“A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.” ~ Maya Angelou

Learning just now about Tonya’s death, I am shocked and saddened, Crossing paths with her and Gerhard, mostly at Symphony concerts, has been a great pleasure. Be assured of my sympathy and best wishes to all her grieving loved ones.

To Mr. Bassler and the whole Bassler family,

Our deepest condolences to all of you in this time of great loss.

Lavena Daley and Family (Cynthia, Denise, Sharon, Deanne, Petrina and Ross)

Dear Gerhard and family,
We remember the times in St. Joseph, Wamun dinners and New Year celebrations with you and Tonya. Wonderful memories created always help in our sadness. Tonya was a very special lady and friend. Please accept our most heartfelt sympathy for your loss, our thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

Mr. Bassler and family,
So sorry to hear the sad news. Tonya will be greatly missed.
Carolyn Hodych

Mr.Bassler, Elisabeth, Heidi, Christine and Paul and Families,
Sincere sympathy on the death of Tonya……A truly lovely lady in all respects. Our parents (Nora and Charlie) enjoyed many visits from the Basslers. Hold on to her memory and take care of one another.. especially your Dad.
Charline Daley and Scott Hounsell

Kris, Christine and family
Our thoughts are with you. Remembering a life well lived is a blessing but often difficult. Memories and stories are to be shared with your children forever.
Take care
Ean Parsons

Mr. Bassler,
Our deepest condolences to you and your family. Our mother(Patricia Singleton) really enjoyed the frequent visits from Mrs. Bassler at our home in St. Joseph’s. They chatted about their common interests of gardening, knitting, and sewing. She would brighten my mother’s day with her smiles and enthusiasm. May she rest in peace.

Ann Marie Singleton & the Singleton family.

Gerhard and family

My sympathy is extended to you in your loss.

Ian Wishart

Sincere sympathy to the Bassler family on the passing of your wife, mother & grandmother. A very gracious lady who I admired and respected.
Anna Gough Power

So sorry for loss at this difficult time

Dear Gerhard and family: We send our sincerest condolences on your sad loss.

Kindest regards,

Peter and Hilary Neary
London, Ontario

I’m so sorry to hear of Tonya’s passing. Throughout my childhood, I always thought of her as such a vibrant, bubbly, lovely woman with an infectious smile. My condolences to the entire family. I know her warmth will live on through her children and grandchildren. xo

Heidi and family,

I am so sorry for your loss. May the wonderful memories of your mother give you strength at this difficult time. Prayers for all of you!

Years ago, we and the Basslers shared many a delightful summer. in St. Joseph’s where Heidi and Elizabeth and our daughters Andrea and Susan played happily in the fields while Tonia, Marion, Gerhart and I discussed the merits and complications of back-to-nature gardening.!
Our most sincere condolences to Gerhardt and his family on the loss of a very talented and devoted. wife and mother.

Our hearts are so saddened by the passing of your mom and a wonderful friend.She was so loved by anyone who knew her .God Bless !

Christine, Kris and family,

I’m sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. My thoughts are with you at this sad time.


Pamela Snow

We are so happy that we got to meet and enjoy your Mom so many times when she visited you in West Newbury, Ma. Your Mom and I shared the love of plants and one of my fondest memories was our visit to the Boston Flower Show. That was a great day. May the wonderful memories of Tonya always comfort you and your family.
Sent with love and light
Your friends Susan and Aida

Dr. Bassler and family,

My deepest sympathy on the loss of a beloved wife and mother.

My husband and I came to know Tonya many years ago when she would come to our little post office in St. Joseph’s, Salmonier. She was a wonderful lady.

My prayers are with you all.

Our sincere condolences Gerhard on the death of Tonya. It was a privilege to have known you both during our time in St. John’s.
Denis and Vivian Roberts

Gerhard and family,

So sorry to learn of Tonya’s passing. She was very kind and supportive during my years working in the chirch office. A very humble, gracious and interesting. I enjoyed our interaction.

My thoughts and prayers are with you Gerhard as you say good bye to your beautiful wife. God Bless!

I’m very sorry to hear about Tonya’s death. She was an intelligent, accomplished, elegant and kind woman. I appreciated her support for the arts and especially for music.

Tonya will truly be missed. My sincere condolences to her entire family.

Mary O’Keeffe

I’m very sorry to hear about Tonya’s death. She was an intelligent, accomplished, elegant and kind woman. She was one of the first women I met when we moved to St. John’s and she was warm and welcoming. I also appreciated her support for the arts and especially for music.

Tonya will truly be missed. My sincere condolences to her entire family.

Mary O’Keeffe

Our sincerest condolences to all of Tonya’s family and friends. The obituary published on this page was a wonderful opportunity to get to learn some new things about Tonya. We are very sorry we will not have a chance to speak more with her in this life and get to know her better.
David and Michelle Sturtevant

Our sincere condolences to Gerhard and the family. Tonya was a wonderful person with a beautiful smile and heart. She will be truly missed.

Christine and John McLean

Tonya leaves us with so many very happy memories,
some from 1965 and others from 1990, in the first
years after Grace’s arrival in Newfoundland..The common interest in things German was profound
and the social interaction memorable. We will remember her as a truly wonderful hostess Our
prayers are with Gerhard and family in their loss.
Grace and David Artiss

So sorry for all the family.

I last saw Mrs. Bassler in Nov. 2013 when she was finishing a round of treatment at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre and my mother was starting hers. Every year is to be treasured.

Keep her good memories close to mind at this hard time.

So sad to learn of Tonya’s death, when she still had so much to give and enjoy. Such an accomplished and lovely person, yet very modest. I knew Tonya from many years at St. David’s Church. My heartfelt condolences to Gerhard, children and grandchildren.

I was very saddened to learn of Tonya’s passing. She endured a lot of pain and suffering. My acquaintance with her was through WAMUN. She was contributed greatly to making the the association such a good one. My deepest sympathy to Gerhard and the rest of her family

So very sorry to hear of Tonya’s death. I taught with her at the Avalon Community College and then we met again through Wamun. She excelled at everything she did and was a role model to many. Sincere condolences to Gerhard and family,