Anthony Joseph Basila (96) died Friday, November 3, after a brief illness. He was born to Sultana and Joseph Basila in Sanger, CA, on October 17, 1921. The family moved to Madera a few years later. Since the 1930s, Tony lived in the family home except for his service during World War II and the last 11 months of his life.
At age seven, he began helping on the family farm and worked until he was 93. He grew cotton, grapes, almonds and pistachios. He went to Ripperdan Elementary School and graduated from Madera High School in 1940.
In 1944 at 23, he was drafted in the U.S. Army, 87th Infantry and left for Europe January 1, 1945. His unit was the first to advance through the Siegfried Line and was one of the first replacement units at the Battle of the Bulge. His military honors include the Bronze Star. He turned down the Purple Heart because he didn’t want his parents to worry.
After the war, he returned to the farm and met the love of his life, Barbara Damsen. They both loved to dance and met at the former Ross’ Ballroom in Fresno in 1948. They married January 7, 1950.
He was proud to be a 65-year member and past master of the Madera Masonic Lodge No. 280 and received the Hiram Award. Tony was also a member of The Scottish Rite, Tehran Shriners, Madera Farm Bureau, a Madera Exchange Club past president, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Edward and Mitchell; and four sisters, Rose Elias, Isabel Rundle, Emily Hilaiel, and Kathryn Jasper.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Barbara; son Kenneth and his wife Velta of Fresno; daughter Laura Basila and her husband Gregory Saunders of Elk Grove; granddaughter Sarah Mattos and her husband Jason of Fresno; grandsons Anthony Basila II and his wife Kristy of Madera, Ryan Saunders of Sacramento, and Tyler Saunders of San Jose; and great-grandchildren Marissa and John Mattos.
Visitation will be at Jay Chapel in Madera on Sunday, November 12, from 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Funeral service will be held Monday, November 13, 2017 at 11:00 A.M. at Jay Chapel.
Remembrances may be made to Fresno Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center, 1455 L St., Fresno, CA 93721; Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817; or donor's favorite charity.