Happy to do his part

Paul Bass celebrates his U.S. citizenship and right to vote

Created date

November 26th, 2019
After living, working, and raising a family in the U.S. for more than 50 years, Paul Bass (left) celebrates becoming a U.S. citizen with friend and neighbor Bob Mack.

After living, working, and raising a family in the U.S. for more than 50 years, Paul Bass (left) celebrates becoming a U.S. citizen with friend and neighbor Bob Mack.

Last month, Paul Bass joined millions of Americans fulfilling their civic duty by going out to the polls to vote. However, for Paul, it was a journey that was 53 years in the making.

A German-born chemist who came to the United States in 1966 as an employee of the Bayer Company, Paul met his wife and raised their three children, Paul, Margaret, and Elizabeth, as American citizens.

“Life was busy and there was little time to think about becoming a naturalized citizen,” he says. “My son Paul often suggested I take the leap, but it was not until recently that I thought about it seriously. In the last year, I felt compelled to vote, and I knew that to do that I needed to become a citizen.”

Fateful decision

In the summer of 1964, a chance meeting with a former college friend changed the course of Paul’s life.

“I was visiting a supplier when, by complete coincidence, I ran into my friend,” he says. “He told me about his recent move with Bayer to Canada. He said there was a similar opportunity for a job relocation in the U.S.”

Intrigued by the possibility, Paul inquired about the position, and later that year, he was on his way to the Bayer office in New Jersey. It was while living there that Paul met his wife and started a family.

The family traveled together to Germany frequently, tagging along on Paul’s business trips. When the Bayer office in New Jersey closed in 1980, the Bass family moved to South Carolina, where Paul lived until his wife’s death in 1998.

“I then moved to Charlotte to be closer to my children and my five granddaughters,” he says.

In June 2018, Paul was among the first to move to Windsor Run, an Erickson Living community in Matthews, N.C.

Sharing his voice

Enjoying retirement, Paul admits to keeping up with politics, attending several “Meet and Greets” on campus, with both state and federal political candidates. 

“Earlier this year, I decided to take the test and finally become a U.S. citizen,” he says. “I studied the booklet and sat down for the one-on-one interview at the Office of Immigration Services in Charlotte.”

Passing the test and attending the naturalization ceremony, Paul quietly became a U.S. citizen.

“No one other than my family knew what I was up to,” he says. 

That is until Paul’s neighbor Bob Mack heard the news.

“A mutual friend discovered what Paul was up to and shared the news with me at dinner,” says Bob. “I was immediately moved by the news. I stood right up and went over to congratulate Paul. I shouted out the news to all our neighbors at dinner. Paul’s story speaks to so many of us. It illustrates that time and age are of little consequence when it comes to being an American.”

“For days, neighbors were congratulating me,” says Paul. “It was quite amazing.”  

Big year ahead

With the presidential election quickly approaching and nearby Charlotte, N.C., hosting the upcoming Republican National Convention, the opportunity to share his voice through his vote is something Paul does not take for granted.

“I’ve always done my best to watch the news, to read the papers, to understand the issues,” he says. “I believe it is an honor to take part in the process. I’m happy to do my part.”