Greg Bassett founded The Squirrel Lover’s Club™ in 1995 after an experience at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. While standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and marveling at the beauty and grandeur of the worldwide attraction, Gregg Bassett was unaware that life as he knew it was about to change. The instigator, a fox squirrel, affected Gregg irrevocably when it stood up on its legs and motioned with its hands. For a few moments, tourists forgot the Grand Canyon. Instead, they gazed into the face of an endearing creature that captured their attention and the heart of at least one visitor – Gregg Bassett. How many other lives did that one squirrel affect? We will never know. Gregg, however, never forgot that squirrel when he returned to his home outside of Chicago, Illinois.
Sometime later that year during a walk, Gregg encountered another squirrel that approached him looking for a treat. Gregg had nothing to offer which bothered him. In preparation for any future squirrel encounters, he purchased in-shell walnuts. When the opportunity arose again to interact with a squirrel, he was ready. He rolled a walnut to an eager squirrel that took it. From a simple interaction between squirrel and man, The Squirrel Lover’s Club™ was born. Throughout the years, Gregg reached other squirrel lovers and the club’s membership grew to thousands.
On behalf of the organization, Gregg appeared on a variety of television shows, some of which included “The Today Show,” “ Animal Planet,” and “To Tell The Truth.” In addition, he was featured on local television and radio shows in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune, along with other Illinois papers, wrote about him and the organization on numerous occasions. During the growth of the organization, Gregg founded Squirrel Awareness Week so that people could pay homage to squirrels the first week of October each year. This event expanded to Squirrel Awareness and Appreciation Month which includes all of October.
People from around the world who believe that squirrels matter have joined the organization. Members include children and adults from all walks of life -- people who care about the well-being and humane treatment of squirrels. A bi-monthly newsletter, In a Nutshell™, serves as a forum for members. Contents have included stories, photographs, poetry, sage advice, resource materials, and more for the squirrel lover.
In October, 2008, Mr. Bassett passed away. Paul Harvey, Jr., a famous radio personality and a member of the club, remembered Gregg in a special tribute to him on the radio during Christmas that year. Like the impression the squirrel at the Grand Canyon had left on him, Gregg left an indelible mark in the hearts of The Squirrel Lover’s community. Jody Karr of Oklahoma City served as president for 4 years following the death of the founder.