Every summer as a little boy, William Mark Bassett traveled with his family from their home near Sacramento, California to visit his maternal grandmother in Alabama. Among their days traveling, the family regularly made a point to visit the Church’s historic sites.
Whether it was visiting the historic grounds of Nauvoo, Illinois, or walking through the Sacred Grove at Palmyra, New York, Elder Bassett remembers the powerful feelings he had — even as a young boy — as he visited those sacred places.
“We felt something there,” he said. “That’s how my testimony was formed, through little experiences.”
That testimony gained as a young man has been a source of strength for the newly called General Authority Seventy throughout his life.
Born on Aug. 14, 1966, to Edwina Acker and William Lynn Bassett, in Carmichael, California, Elder Bassett is the second oldest of five children. Both of his parents were raised in the gospel and made Church service and living the gospel a top priority in their family.
“My parents have always been faithful,” he said. “Certainly, they have had challenges, but they have always strived to do what’s right and raised us that way.”
He credits much of his parents’ legacy to their parents’ foundation of faith. “My grandfather was killed in an accident in the home — an explosion that took his life when my mother was 10 years old,” he said. “My grandmother raised four of her six children, the youngest being 8 months, by herself, under very difficult circumstances. She has always been a hero in our family.”
Although her circumstances were not ideal, “Granny” as they called her, managed to raise her own family in the gospel and was always finding ways to help others.
“Granny was a convert and walked long distances to church herself, and was very committed during difficult times,” he said. “Her life was hard, but she was faithful and one who always gave to others. As much as she was in need — she even had to buy groceries on credit from the storekeeper who would allow them because he knew they needed food — she always looked for opportunities to help others.”
His grandmother’s example of strong faith amid difficulty helped Elder Bassett in his own life. When he was 11 years old he was on his way home from Primary and saw the lights and heard the siren of emergency vehicles. As he approached the scene, he realized responders were attending to his best friend who had been hit by a car while delivering newspapers.
“I normally would have been with him, riding with him on the bike for the weekday afternoon paper, but I was at Primary,” Elder Bassett said. “He had already turned 12 and had graduated. He passed away, and a significant point in my life was when my parents came home to tell me.”
Just a few years later at age 15, Mark Bassett was on a campout with that same friend’s brother and father. While camping, there was a lightning storm, and his friend’s father was mortally injured.
He and the other boys rallied together to go and find help. After locating and sending assistance, young Mark Bassett thought of only one thing he should do; he gathered the younger boys together — soaking wet and cold from the rain — and they knelt to pray in the ranger station.
“It was a turning point for me,” Elder Bassett said. “Just praying together and relying on the Lord at that time was a learning experience — we really had nowhere else to go. I felt comforted even though at the time we didn’t know he had passed away. We felt the Holy Ghost clearly and felt peace during a very challenging time.”
Those defining moments helped — at a crucial time in his life — solidify Elder Bassett’s faith and deepen his understanding of the Plan of Salvation. He realized at a young age how important faith and family are in life, and because of that realization, has continued to make faith and family his top priorities.
“I had to decide at a young age what I believed and what it all meant,” he said.
That strong faith helped him as he began his service in the Guatemala Guatemala City Mission in 1985. A significant part of his mission was learning from his mission president, Gary Elliott, and his mission president’s wife, Sharon Elliott.
“He changed my life,” Elder Bassett said. “He was a marine, and what you think a marine would be, but I knew he loved me — it was very clear, always, but he expected much.” W
hile on his mission, Elder Bassett learned again the power that can come into a person’s life through kneeling in prayer. At the time he was training a new missionary and was suffering from the physical manifestations of malaria.
“I felt like I was not pushing as hard as I thought we should be pushing,” he recalled. “I was hard on myself. I felt very alone, and was worried about disappointing my companion.”
Frustrated, he knelt to pray and the words of the hymn “I Am a Child of God” popped into his mind. “I knew I wasn’t alone,” he said. “I was still sick and tired, but I felt better because I knew I wasn’t alone.”
After returning from serving a two-year mission, Elder Bassett moved to Provo, Utah, to attend school at Brigham Young University.
Although being in the same ward and hometown growing up meant he and his future wife, Angela Brasher, had met, it wasn’t until he was home from his mission that they started dating.
After a two-year long-distance courtship, they married in the Salt Lake Temple on Dec. 20, 1989. They are the parents of five children and have two grandchildren. “Family is central to our lives,” Sister Bassett said. “We have always been close to our brothers and sisters and parents, and have tried to help our kids turn inward, encouraging them as siblings to love each other.”
Elder Bassett added, “I was close to my family and friends through my youth and we relied on and helped each other. I am still very close with my siblings.”
In 1991, Elder Bassett earned a degree in accounting from BYU, and later moved with his family back to the Sacramento area to work in the wholesale auto auction industry.
He worked as controller at Brasher’s Sacramento Auto Auction and later became the CFO and co-owner of West Coast Auto Auctions, Inc. — where he operated automobile auctions throughout the western United States.
In 2007, a call to preside over the Arizona Mesa Mission took Elder Bassett and his family from California to Arizona.
“His humility and how he treats others stands out in my mind,” said Sister Bassett. “I love watching him interact with the people he’s serving. ... He is thoughtful of people. He’s tender. He remembers people, and he’s always quietly doing things for others.”
Elder Bassett sees his new calling as a wonderful opportunity to “be a part of building the kingdom of God on earth.”
“I have been blessed personally and am eternally indebted to Him,” he said. “I want others to feel that same love and am happy to do whatever part I can to help that happen.”
Family: Born on Aug. 14, 1966, in Carmichael, California, to Edwina Acker and William Lynn Bassett. Married Angela Brasher on Dec. 20, 1989, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are parents of five children and have two grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University in 1991.
Employment: Worked in the wholesale auto auction industry; controller at Brasher’s Sacramento Auto Auction and CFO and a co-owner of West Coast Auto Auctions, Inc., where he operated automobile auctions throughout the western United States.
Church service: Served a full-time mission in the Guatemala Guatemala City Mission from 1985-1987, ward Young Men president, bishop, high councilor, stake president, president of the Arizona Mesa Mission from 2007-2010 and Area Seventy.
[email protected] @marianne_holman