Joan Mary Bassett

Literacy Volunteer

Joan Mary Bassett, 80, who taught hundreds of adults how to read as a volunteer with the Prince George's Literacy Council, died of a brain tumor Dec. 2 at the Joseph Richey Hospice Center in Baltimore.

Mrs. Bassett had lived in College Park since 1959. She was born in London, and during World War II she served in the Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Air Force in Scotland and England.

She immigrated to Canada after the war, and then in 1959 relocated to this area.

In addition to teaching adults to read, Mrs. Bassett led conversation groups for adults for whom English was a second language, and she trained new tutors. On Oct. 11, she was honored for her work with an Award for Excellence by the Leadership Cares Foundation and presented with a letter of appreciation from first lady Laura Bush.

Mrs. Bassett also was a volunteer caretaker of the orchid collection at Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington. She was a library volunteer at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt.

She was a member of Northeastern Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Survivors include her husband of 55 years, James, of College Park; four daughters, Pauline Bassett of Florence, Mass., Christine Markle of Berwyn, Pa., Michele Barry of Riva and Alison Bassett of Newton, Mass.; a brother; and six grandchildren.

Helen Owens James

Political Analyst

Helen Owens James, 80, a State Department political analyst in the 1950s, died of emphysema Dec. 3 at Rockville Nursing Home.

She lived in Annandale from 1965 until moving to Rockville in 1995.

Mrs. James was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and raised in Washington and Arlington.

She was a 1940 graduate of Washington and Lee High School in Arlington and was a psychology graduate of George Washington University. She also attended the University of Maryland.

Mrs. James was an expert on Southern Asia and Ceylon for the State Department.

She was a volunteer with Fairfax Meals-on-Wheels, the Arlington Optimist Club, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Virginia Republican Women's Committee.

Her husband of 42 years, Robert Bleakley James Jr., died in 1994.

Survivors include two daughters, Janet James Escobedo of Albuquerque and Pamela James-Memenza of Rockville; and five grandchildren.