Gerhard Paul Bassler, PhD

June 2, 1937 to March 26, 2023


Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Gerhard was an impressive man with numerous skills, interests, and academic contributions.  In 1961, he transferred his studies from Germany to University of Kansas, where he met the love of his life, Tonya Kurt.  Shortly thereafter, Gerhard completed his Ph.D. in history, married Tonya, and accepted a faculty position at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  An accomplished scholar respected nationally in his field, Gerhard rose to full professor at MUN and retired in 2003, at which time he was appointed Professor Emeritus.  He learned seven languages and published in two.  He thoroughly enjoyed his chosen field, devoting endless hours to original research because he believed it was important that the truth be told for future generations.

Gerhard published nine scholarly books, numerous book chapters and academic articles, and an extensive three-volume family history during his lifetime.  Vikings to U-Boats won the Rogers Cable Nonfiction Award, which is a part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards, and Escape Hatch was shortlisted for the Heritage Book Award.

Gerhard loved his life in Newfoundland.  In 1975, he moved his family to St. Mary’s Bay, where he and Tonya became self-taught organic farmers with the first registered farm for Jersey cattle in Newfoundland.  In addition to dairy cattle, their livestock included ducks, geese, chickens, and turkeys.  Gardening was more than just a hobby; it was a lifelong labor of love.  Despite Newfoundland’s short growing season and harsh climate, he could make anything flourish.  From edible crops to incredible landscaping and indoor blooms, Gerhard’s green thumb was impressive, although he would modestly say that anyone could do it.

Gerhard was intelligent, hardworking, thoughtful, and honest.  “A man among men,” as a friend recently described him.  He enjoyed challenges and learned how to fix almost anything, from children’s toys to home repairs.  His eye would twinkle when he found the solution. To assist his research, Gerhard welcomed technology and became skilled with computers.

His greatest passion, though, was for his large family with whom he loved spending time.  Gerhard adored his wife Tonya, who predeceased him in 2017, and embraced his growing family, cherishing every new member.  Gerhard’s homemade Spätzle dinners were legendary, as were the bountiful organic salads that went directly from his prolific garden to the table.  He generously shared whatever he had, including delighting the young children with delicious dark chocolate.  In lively discussions, Gerhard connected current events to historical preludes and precedents, providing a greater understanding of the world we share.

Gerhard passed away peacefully surrounded by his four loving children in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Leaving to mourn are his children Elisabeth (Karl Hammond), Heidi (Todd Newman), Christine (Kris Aubrey-Bassler), and Paul (Sarah Bassler), his brother Jürgen, and his eleven grandchildren: William, James, Emma, Adam, Anna, Maggie, Charlotte, Kurt, Julia, Timothy, and Alex.

The family will receive visitors at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road, on Thursday, March 30 from 7-9pm and Friday, March 31 from 2-4 pm.  Funeral service will be held from the St. David’s Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 1st at 2 pm.  Interment to follow in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Donations in Gerhard’s memory may be made to St. David’s Presbyterian Church or the Canadian Cancer Society.



7-9 p.m. on March 30, 2023

2-4 p.m. on March 31, 2023

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
View on Map


2:00pm, Saturday April 1st

St. David's Presbyterian Church


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To Heidi and the entire Bassler Family:

My sincere condolences to you and your family. May your father Rest in Peace.

Having known the Bassler family for years, Elke and I extend our condolences to all its members. In particular to Paul whom I, John, have known and held in high regard.

To the Bassler children and grandchildren. My thoughts are with you all. Keep your happy memories. Take care of yourselves.
Condolences, Vivien Clark

To the Bassler family, my sincere condolences on the passing of their Vater/Grossvater, a most extraordinary gentleman and Renaissance man. His erudition was legendary and his understanding of world issues and, of course, history were admirable. His scholarship about the role of Germany and indeed, Canada during and after WWII and his strong views against antisemitism are a legacy that ought to be held up as an example of a man who loved his fellow human beings in the true sense of the word.. I liked his sense of humour, his intelligence, his modesty and his unwavering friendliness..His memory will live on in all who knew him.

My condolences to Elisabeth and the Bassler family. A beautiful obituary for an obviously well loved man n

We were saddened to learn of Gerhard’s death. We remember his kindness to us and that we last met up with him on the ski trails at Pippy Park a few years back. A special memory is when Terrice discovered there was a Bassler clan already settled in Newfoundland, and we were welcomed so warmly by Gerhard, Tonya and the wider family. Naturally, there was a lively sharing of ancestral histories and immigration stories.

Sending love, strength and courage to you at this time of loss and grief,

terrice & Brad
Victoria, British Columbia

Dear Christine, Paul, Heidi and Elisabeth and family,

We are very sorry to hear of Gerhard’s death. He was a dear friend at university, church and in private. Our conversations after church service and at other occasions were always of great personal benefit. Unfortunately, Covid prevented us during the past few years from continuing our close relationship. As a scholar, Gerhard excelled in placing Newfoundland and Labrador into the wider world, as his books and articles show. As scholar and human being, he was always moved by a deep concern toward his fellow human beings. We miss our association and conversations with him.

With most sincere and deepest condolences to the whole family,

Hans and Marcella Rollmann and family.

I always loved to see Tonya and Gerhard at our Beerclub events. They were such wonderful heartfelt people who always brought a beam of light to the occasions. Thankfully Gerhard turned me onto some of the books he wrote where I have learned much about our history. Thank you Gerhard. Godspeed.

Our deepest condolences to the Bassler Family and extended Family on the passing of your Dad and grandfather , a great knowledgeable man.
Treasure all your great memories with him and cherish them forever .
Andrew & Christine Daley

I remember Gerhard with great fondness as both a colleague and friend. We were at Memorial University together from the time I arrived in 1968 until his retirement in 2002. He was a popular teacher and a respected scholar. And he will be remembered as a valuable member of the department and university. Community. My personal recollections are of happy times spent with him and Tonya at their country home in St Margaret!s. They were such generous hosts and good friends. . He leaves us with many warm memories. Thank you Gerhard.

“When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.”

My sincere condolences on the loss of your father and grandfather. Dr.. Bassler was truly an exceptional man,. He always had a ready smile and helping hand..

Dr. Christine and the Bassler family.
My deepest sympathy and love to you all at this time.
Cheryl Trask

I was notified of Gerhard’s passing by one of his many graduate students, a good friend of mine. First, my friend really loved Gerhard as a graduate advisor, and I met Gerhard through him. Many generations back I have German heritage and Gerhard had me over for lovely dinners a few times upon my importation of a wonderful sauerkraut from Nova Scotia. It was a delightful supply arrangement as my being away from home and being in the company of his family was very pleasant, and I never forgot it. Rest in Peace kind man. Sincere condolences to his family.

Please accept our condolences re. the demise of your charming father and husband. His smile and demeanour always lit up the halls of the Science building. “Death hath no dominion”. May he rest in peace. Ishmael Baksh and Stella Algoo Baksh.

Dear Elizabeth, Heidi, Christine and Paul, Please accept my condolences on the death of your father. His life made a positive difference in the lives of so many. His influence as a teacher and writer has impacted this province. I remember with fondness the times I babysat you when you were so vey young and I was a teenager. Your parents had such respect for my mother from the time they first arrived on Dublin Road. It is remembered with much gratitude. He is now united again with his beloved Tonya. May his memory be forever a blessing to you and to your children.

Christine and family, I am so sorry to hear about your dads passing. Thinking of you at this time.

I mourn Gerhard with sadness, respect, and warm memories. I was his Honours student in the early 1980s: he did so much to foster my interest in Russian History (I later became a professor in it). He was a fine teacher and a prodigious scholar. I owe a lot to the MUN History Department – my time as an undergraduate were my formative years – and Gerhard was a big part of that. In recent years I saw him several times when I got back to St. John’s and had great fun reminiscing and hearing his recollections of Germany, Kansas, and moving to Newfoundland in the 1960s.
Rest in peace, Gerhard

We are very sad to hear of Gerhard’s passing. We knew Gerhard and Tonya over the last 20 years and it was a very enriching and friendly relationship for us.
We have many good memories attending several committees together at church, @ Tonya’s book club and WAMUN special dinner gatherings. We will miss them dearly. Our deepest condolences to their lovely family.
Nabil and Tanya Shalaby

Dear Elizabeth and Bassler family:
I was very sad to know of your father passing. My deepest condolences to all of you. I had the pleasure to know Gerhard, Tonya, and their children during my time in Newfoundland, and I had a great admiration for Gerald scholarly work and his qualities as a human being.
My thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

I have a lovely memory of Gerhard. Last June when I came home to St. John’s for a visit, I went to his house to have tea with him. It was a sunny afternoon, he showed me his garden, of course, and served excellent tea and cake, which he had made. He was charming and interesting, I could have stayed all afternoon. Elisabeth, you and your family had the good fortune to live with this wonderful man for so many years, and, believe me, he will always be with you. He had a cheerful, humorous, and practical attitude to ageing and all that goes with it. I hope I can be so graceful.
God bless all of you. Rest in peace, Gerhard.
Barbara McCutcheon

My sincere condolences to the Bassler family during this difficult time. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bassler during my time at Memorial University and he always treated me with the great kindness.

I was most saddened to hear of Gerhard’s passing, and I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to his family. Some of them will remember me as a visitor to their home on isolated occasions years ago. Gerhard had a formative intellectual impact on me. He got me interested in Russian and German history and supervised both my senior undergraduate thesis and M.A. thesis. He was an inspiring mentor, great teacher, and reliable friend. For me he became a model whose academic achievements and the congenial atmosphere I saw in his home, helped shape my visions of the good life. I wish I could have seen him before his and Tonya’s passing. The last time I met them together was when I returned to MUN to accept an honorary degree. Behind the scenes Gerhard made that happen. My wife (Marie Fleming) and I had a delightful time together with the Basslers. We kept wanting to return, but my research drew me to Europe. I remember my times with him and the great history department at MUN as the fondest period in my life, with Gerhard a bigger part of it than he knew. I hope he realized how much I loved and respected him.

I wish you to express my condolences on the passing of Gerhard Bassler to his friends and family. I was fortunate enough to meet him as a student when he was a professor at Memorial University.

It was during this time that I also got to know him as an individual who very understanding, accommodating, but yet determined to bring the best out of me as both a student and an individual, and because of this, I can say wholeheartedly that I was lucky enough to meet Professor Bassler.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.

Rest easy, my friend and colleague..

We were so sad to hear of Mr Basler’’s passing. We had such a great visit last summer when we were in St Joseph’s. He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed.
Our sincere condolences to the family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

I was very sorry to hear of your fathers passing. I remember him fondly from St David’s as well as your mom.
My thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time.
The Ellis Family,
Barbara, Lynn, Neil, Susan and Fiona

This is a tough one I have known Gerhard for more years than I can remember. We were colleagues at Memorial. Although I now live in Niagara Falls, Gerhard and I kept in touch. We had lunch together at the Rooms only last June. He was a true gentleman, scholar, and friend. My most sincere condolences to the family.

Our sincere condolences to the entire Bassler family.
We sat behind Gerhard & Tonya at Church for many years & became friends..There was always something of interest to discuss. .You will all have Precious Memories, & they will see you through..

Dave & Sylvia Hudson.

Christine and family,
So very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. From reading his tribute it is obvious he lead a rich and fulfilling life.. He will be sadly missed. May your wonderful memories bring you comfort. We extend our sincere condolences to you and your family.
Don and Elsie Rideout

I’m so very sorry to learn of the passing of your father, Christine. May he rest in peace. My thoughts are with you all at this sad time.

Im so sorry to hear the passing of Dr. Bassler. I was one of his many students in the history department and I did one 3rd year and two 4th year classes from him. His grasp of knowledge of the subjects was quite remarkable where he would give out his lectures without the use of notes or PowerPoint it all came from his head. He was a real gentleman, scholar, author, and teacher he will be greatly missed. Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss, Chris Gardner BA.

Sincere condolences to the Bassler family on the passing of your father. His presence will certainly be missed at St. David’s church.

Kathleen (Kay) Scott

Deepest Sympathy Christine to you and all the family on the passing of your father. His obituary was truly a wonderful tribute to his life. May he RIP
Sandy & Angie Gibbons

Condolences to Heidi, Elisabeth, Christine, Paul and all your family. Dr. Bassler was a fine man, noted scholar, and accomplished gardener. He and your mother raised good people.

Dr. Christine & Family….
Please accept my sincere condolences on your Father’s passing.
Thinking of you.

Most sincere condolences for the passing of your father Paul. From my family to yours.

David Guiler & Family

Dear Christine & Family,
So sorry to hear of your loss. Thinking of you and your family at this difficult time.


I am so sorry to her of your fathers passing. I remember you speaking of his gardening skills, I think that you have inherited some of his ability.


Heidi and Bassler family,
Sincere condolences on the passing of your dad. Wishing you peace and comfort in your memories during this time of sorrow.

So sad to learn of Dr. Bassler’s passing. We have fond memories of his many visits to our home in St. Joseph’s back in the day … and the lively discussions about cows and crops. Happy to have re-connected with Dr. Bassler in the last couple of years. Thinking of you all as you celebrate a life so well lived. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

My sympathies to Christine, Paul and families,
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your father. Clearly, he was a huge part of your lives and I am sure he will be deeply missed. Take care!

John Adams

With admiration and respect I bid a fond farewell to Gerhard, my brother-in-law and sister’s husband. From the days that I met Gerhard when both you and Tonya were students at the University of Kansas, I salute your marriage in June, 1964, your travel to St. John’s, decades of teaching and historic research at MUN, our shared visits and growing families including your children and your innovative gardening, My gratitude for a life shared, of interactions with you, Tonya, your children and grandchildren. Most recently in September, 2022, Carol and I enjoyed a week in St. John’s with you and Christine and Kris, Paul and Sarah, and later in Massachusetts with Elisabeth and Karl and Heidi and Todd and their families. Bravo Gerhard for your dedicated energies!
Tom (Thomas L. Kurt, MD, MPH)

So sorry to hear of Gerhard’s passing.: he was a true gentleman and a scholar, indeed. My condolences to all his loved ones.

My sympathies to the Bassler family. Dr. Bassler was one of the extraordinary history professors who taught at Memorial in the 1960’s and inspired me to become a high school history teacher.. His historical knowledge was immense and his teaching skills impressive. He provoked his students to re examine accepted historical beliefs .
I found him a friendly and kind man who cared about his students and interested in their lives long after he had taught them.

I see Dr. Bassler lived a life rich with experiences, seized opportunities, pursued interests and the blessing of many years. It is wonderful to see such a fulfilled life. My memory of Dr. Bassler is that of a History prof at MUN during the 1970’s. Not only was he an interesting and scholarly History prof but he was a great teacher who related with and inspired his students. I am thinking of his family at this difficult time. Dr. Bassler’s legacy lives on..

Opa was a great friend to me and a teacher too. On the short period of time that I knew him, he gave me a some wise words and even told me I shouldn’t stop reading and encouraged me that all the hard work that I do will eventually pay off.

May his soul Rest in Peace 🙏🏾.