What's in a name? - Wanda Bass Fine Arts Center
Wanda Lousie Jones (1927-2008) married Clark Bass in 1951. She had already graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and a minor in Management. Her education prepared her to work for the Lone Star Gas Company, then the banking business. in 1973 , Wanda Bass became vice-president of First National Bank and Trust of McAlester. She became Chairman of the Board of McAlester Bank and Trust Company in 1999.
She and her husband, Clark Bass, contributed countless hours and millions of dollars to arts, educational and civic projects in McAlester and around the state. Wanda Bass was president of the Board of First National Community Development Corporation. She and her husband had leadership roles in the construction of the McAlester Regional Hospital and founded the McAlester Area Arts and Humanities Council.
Several permanent memorials remain in McAlester to show their work. Wanda and Clark Bass donated the Wanda Bass Fine Arts Center at McAlester High School. The McAlester Campus of Eastern Oklahoma State College opened in 1998 with their help and the higher education center of that campus bears her name. Public radio station KBCW was established in McAlester in 1999 with the bass's support. Wanda Bass was also the driving force behind the Carl Albert statue and tribute area which is adjacent to the Pioneer Coal Miner Memorial in Chadick Park.
Wanda Bass received many honors and awards including the following: Governor's Art Award, Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, Oklahoma Heritage Association Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City University's Distinguished Philanthropist Award, and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame, Journal Record Woman of the Year Circle of Excellence, Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame, and January 13, 2004, was declared "Wanda L. Bass Day" by Governor Brad Henry.
Wanda Bass was dedicated to education, economic development, music, and banking. She dies February 12, 2008.