Joseph Bassett

Celebrating the Life of Joseph Bassett: A Health Freedom Pioneer

7/2/20243 min read

Joseph M. Bassett — a name synonymous with tireless advocacy in the natural products industry, a beacon of health freedom, and an inspiration to many —

Celebrating the Life of Joseph Bassett: A Health Freedom Pioneer

Building a Legacy from Humble Beginnings

In 1967, Joe and his wife, Patricia, realized their vision by opening Bassett's Health Foods at Cricket West Shopping Center. What started as a single store quickly became a cornerstone for health enthusiasts seeking vitamins and supplements. Within a year, they expanded by buying out a competitor, establishing a prominent location at the bustling Westgate Shopping Center, followed by a second store on Heatherdowns Boulevard.

The motivation behind the store was Patricia’s personal health challenges, which sparked their interest in natural health products. Then selling real estate, Joe immersed himself in the health food industry, acquiring the expertise that would soon serve countless customers in their health journeys.

A Trusted Expert in Natural Health

Joseph Bassett was not just a storeowner; he was a trusted advisor whose depth of knowledge on supplements and vitamins was invaluable to his customers. With his innovative spirit, Joe developed his own herb and vitamin formulas marketed under his name, becoming household staples. Patricia emphasized, “This is what he was all about.”

Leading with Knowledge and Advocacy

Joe's influence extended well beyond his stores. He served several terms as president of the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), now the Natural Products Association (NPA). His daughter, Sabrina Early, fondly remembers him as a lifelong scholar who studied under leading nutrition experts before teaching seminars to share his extensive knowledge with others.

One of Joe’s most significant achievements was his instrumental role in the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. This pivotal legislation regulated dietary supplements as food rather than medication, ensuring public access to nutritional information and health benefits.

Joe was not only self-taught but also formally trained in nutritional and massage therapies, including Touch for Health. His dedication to advancing health freedom remained steadfast throughout his life.

An Advocate Till the End

Even after DSHEA, Joe continued to advocate for health freedom. He founded and took active roles in various organizations, including:

  • The National Institute of Nutritional Education

  • President of the Mid-American Health Association

  • Chairman and board member of Citizens for Health (CFH)

  • Board Member and Advisory Board Member of the National Health Federation (NHF)

James Gormley, Vice President of CFH, recalled Joe's influential presence when mobilizing against restrictive regulations following the 1992 FDA raid on Dr. Jonathan Wright's Tahoma Clinic. Joe's efforts galvanized the health movement, making him a leading advocate for consumer rights.

Beyond Business: A Life Rich in Service and Love

Joseph Bassett’s story began in Toledo, where he excelled as a wrestler at DeVilbiss High School, achieving a scholarship to Ohio State University. Drafted into the Army during the Korean War, he served as a tank gunner before continuing his education at the University of Toledo. It was during this time he met Patricia Martin, his future wife, at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. They married on September 22, 1958, and embarked on a life journey full of entrepreneurial spirit and community dedication.

Post-wrestling and tutoring at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Joe immersed himself in various endeavors, including a stint as a juvenile probation officer and founding a computer programming school in Memphis. But his ultimate passion remained the health-food industry.

A Family Man

Joseph Bassett is survived by his loving wife Patricia, their children Joseph Jr., Sabrina Early, and Charmaine Bassett Trimm, his brother James, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Impact and Tributes

Joseph Bassett’s impact on the natural products industry and health freedom movement is profound. His peers and the broader health community honor his legacy, recalling his dedication with heartfelt tributes. James Gormley praised him as one of the greatest advocates for grassroots health freedom, while Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., reflected on Joe's belief in the fundamental right to health self-management. Jim Turner of Citizens for Health emphasized the enduring inspiration Joe provided to all who worked with him.

As we reflect on Joseph M. Bassett’s life, we are reminded of how one person's dedication and compassion can shape an industry and touch countless lives. His legacy lives on through Bassett’s Health Foods and the continuing mission for health freedom.