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Dr. Douglas C. Basil, Ph.D.

Last updated 01/25/2023

May 30, 1923 – December 20, 2022

A truly amazing Renaissance man, Dr. Douglas Constantine Basil, passed away at his home surrounded by his family in his one-hundredth year.  Although he never liked to tell anyone his age, he was within a few months of marking the 100 milestone. He will be very much missed by many.

A proud naturalized American citizen, Douglas was born in in Vancouver, Canada on May 30, 1923 to mother Christine (Findley) Basil of Glasgow, Scotland, and father William Basil, born in Greece.  He enlisted in the Canadian/British Army when World War II started for the allied side in 1939.  A captain by age 19, he was in active service in Germany, France, Great Britain and Holland for over five years.  He was recruited by the British Intelligence during the war but did not want to accept the invitation!  He asked to be with his men and learned years later, that the battalions to which he was assigned suffered immense casualties.  Douglas maintained that his love of history and strategy grew out of his war time experiences.

After WWII, Douglas pursued his education on the Canadian version of the GI Bill and graduated from the University of British Columbia.   He was eventually awarded a scholarship to attend the London School of Economics for his advanced studies. He was in turn offered several teaching opportunities in the United States which he accepted with his wife Peg, who was the first in her Canadian family to have an advanced degree.    Douglas taught at the University of Marquette and Northwestern University in the Kellogg School of Business, among others.  He will forever be associated with his long 28 year teaching career at USC (University of Southern California) in the Management and Organization Department at the Marshall School of Business.  He was a big booster to young faculty and created a program for them. When he retired, he left a generous endowment to support retired professors at the USC Emerti Center.

Douglas published many books on business which were translated into languages such as Japanese and Portuguese.   He had a special interest in promoting women in business and wrote one of the first serious books encouraging companies worldwide to advance their careers.  With Dr. Curtis Cook, Douglas wrote a seminal book called The Management of Change which McGraw Hill promoted as “the blueprint for 21rst Century Man.”   (He would have added “Woman” we know)

Douglas enjoyed teaching seminars to international students around the world through courses associated with Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth. He created The Basil Family Foundation to foster advanced education and unique projects. 

He also became a sought-after international business consultant and spent nearly half the year travelling.   Douglas often pulled his daughter out of school after deciding that world travel was an important component of her education.   He loved learning about new things and having adventures.  He seemed fearless at times – such as paragliding in Mexico in his eighties or travelling through Europe with his wife Peg on the back of a motorcycle by way of a honeymoon.  

Douglas outlived many of his friends, colleagues and family members, including his brother William and several cherished relatives in Scotland and Canada. He is preceded in death by his first wife Evelyn Margaret “Peg” Basil (formerly Pitcairn) of over 40 years.   He is survived by his loving and adored wife Pauline Cleary (formerly Iacono) Basil of San Pedro, California.   Douglas is survived by his only child, Dr. Wendy Basil of Simi Valley, California and two much loved grand-daughters Alice Lockhart and Lily Lockhart.  He also loved his “honorary daughter” Mary Mateljan Ruiz and passed on the travel bug to her.   Mary first introduced herself to the family while on a tricycle, age 4, when she asked to inspect the house Douglas was building next door “for his little girl.” As a hobby and an investment, Douglas also designed and built a number of cliff-side houses.

Douglas continued to serve as an educator for many years following the passing of his first wife.  He was delighted to be recruited as a guest lecturer booked on cruise ships as a way to get away from empty house.   He would discuss the culture, history and economic interests of the ports they visited, plus gave tips on shopping and purchasing art.   He met his second wife Pauline, a widow, on a cruise ship when she attended his lecture, only to learn that they lived in the same California town a few miles apart!

His caregivers were extraordinary and essential to his health in the past year.  Mary Ann Bonsall was the primary caretaker who also brought in Mercy, Eva and Lou.  Douglas kept his sense of humor throughout his long life and truly adored these ladies.   One of their favorite excursions was to the 99 Cent Store.   He passed his love of collecting to his daughter Wendy who would often accompany him to garage sales and auctions while growing up.  Part of their routine was to hide his purchases downstairs so his wife wouldn’t see them.   He continued to hide his treasures from his second wife Pauline as well.

As per his wishes, there were no graveside services following cremation.   Instead, a joyous celebration with bagpipes and toasts to a life well-lived was held on Friday January 27, 2023.

For more information, please contact Wendy Basil at