Robert Bass was born in Pittsburg, Kansas, on March 2, 1926. He earned his bachelor's and Master's degrees at Kansas State Teacher's College, and served in the Pacific during World War II.
He came to Seattle in 1957 and accepted a teaching position at the Luther Burbank School on Mercer Island. There he eventually became head teacher. He joined the Seattle Public Schools in 1963 as counselor at Franklin High School.
His service to the district included:
- Vice-Principal at T. T. Minor and Van Asselt Middle Schools;
- Principal at Harrison (now Martin Luther King), Stevens, Madrona, and Gatzert Elementary schools;
- Seattle School District's first Intergroup Relations Coordinator.
During the 1970s he was assistant professor at the University of Washington. There he headed a program designed to attract and train minority teachers.
Even after his retirement in 1991, he was constantly searching for ways to close the achievement gap between black and white students. He often spoke to the Seattle School Board, and he served on the board that managed the Youth Service Center, King County's juvenile-justice center.
On November 24, 2002, Bass died at the age of 76.