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Posts tagged: Pete Cenarrusa

Hundreds gather to remember Cenarrusa

St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Boise was filled this morning with hundreds of friends, relatives, colleagues and admirers of former longtime Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, who died Sunday at the age of 95; the funeral service drew an array of Idaho’s top leadership, including current and former governors and top elected officials. Current Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who was Cenarrusa’s longtime chief deputy before succeeding him in office in 2003, told the crowd, “I worked for Pete for 28 years, and personally witnessed how he dealt with people and various problems. He set the bar pretty high. … He treated people how he wanted to be treated.”

Said Ysursa, “I will always consider him as my most valued mentor.” Phil Reberger, a longtime friend of Cenarrusa’s and a fellow pilot, read the poem, “High Flight.”

Ysursa drew a strong burst of laughter when he told the cathedral full of dignitaries, “Pete was not a great public speaker, but unlike a lot of us here today, he knew it.” He said he’s still, to this day, sometimes referred to or introduced mistakenly as Cenarrusa. That, he said, is “the highest compliment you can give me.” He ended his eulogy, “Adios, my friend.”

Gov. Butch Otter, who also was in attendance along with former Govs. Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus, has ordered all state flags to be flown at half-staff through tomorrow in honor of Cenarrusa, Idaho’s longest-serving state elected official ever. In addition to his long service as the state’s secretary of state, Cenarrusa is a former speaker of the Idaho House and served nine terms there; he’s also a Basque-American leader known around the world; and a prominent Idaho sheep rancher. His friends are gathering after the funeral for a reception at the Basque Center, and he’ll be interred tomorrow at Bellevue, Idaho.

Lying in state…

Idaho’s longest-serving elected official, Pete Cenarrusa, is lying in state in the rotunda of the Capitol this afternoon, after his death at the age of 95. At the head of his casket, on a small table, is the straw hat that Cenarrusa liked to wear. White-gloved military guards stand at attention. Wreaths at either side bear ribbons from the State of Idaho and the Basque government; another of several flower arrangements nearby says Idaho House of Representatives, where Cenarrusa served nine terms, including three as speaker. Ander Collobarro, delegate of the Basque government, was among those speaking at a short ceremony as the casket was brought into the Capitol just before noon today; Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter presented the wreath on behalf of the state.

People have been stopping by in ones, twos and small groups this afternoon, to pay respects and sign one of two guest books, which stand nearby, next to a drawing of Cenarrusa. Tonight at 7:30, a vigil will be held at St. John’s Cathedral; tomorrow at 10 a.m., a funeral service will follow, also at St. John’s. Cenarrusa is scheduled to be interred Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Bellevue, Idaho cemetery, in a ceremony that will include an Army National Guard honor guard, a 21-gun salute, taps, and the presentation of the U.S. flag to Cenarrusa’s widow, Freda.

Basque government expresses ‘great sorrow’ on Cenarrusa’s passing

The Basque government has issued a statement of “great sorrow” upon the passing yesterday of Pete Cenarrusa, prominent Basque-American leader and the former longtime Idaho Secretary of State. In a statement, the government announced that Ander Caballero, the delegate of the Basque Country in the United States, will attend Cenarrusa’s funeral services this Thursday and Friday, and called Cenarrusa “a great friend and tireless supporter of the Basque Country and of the Basque people in the United States.” Basque President Lehendakari Inigo Urkullu sent condolences and affection to Cenarrusa’s wife, Freda, along with a statement of “gratitude for his immense work and commitment.” You can read the full statement here.

Cenarrusa to lie in state at the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon

Funeral arrangements for former longtime Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa still are being finalized, but Summers Funeral Home reports that visitation will be held Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. at its Boise chapel, 1205 W. Bannock St. Then, on Thursday, Cenarrusa will lie in state at the state Capitol from noon to 7 p.m. Following that, a vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at St. John’s Cathedral.

Then on Friday a funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., also at St. John’s Cathedral, followed by a reception at the Basque Center.

Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho’s longest serving elected official, dies at age 95

Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho’s longest-serving elected official ever, died today at the age of 95 at his Boise home, after a three-year battle with cancer. Cenarrusa, who was Idaho’s elected secretary of state from 1967 to 2003,  also served nine terms in the Idaho House, including three as speaker; that adds up to 52 straight years of service in Idaho’s Capitol. Born in Carey, Idaho to Basque immigrants, Cenarrusa is a direct descendant of the first Spanish ambassador to the United States, who furnished clothing and munitions to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. A University of Idaho graduate, he was a national collegiate boxing champion, a teacher and coach, a Marine Corps veteran, a private pilot, and with wife Freda, a successful and prominent sheep rancher for more than four decades.

Cenarrusa, for whom Idaho’s largest state government office building at 450 W. State St. is named,  is survived by Freda, his wife of 66 years; his daughter-in-law Jean Cenarrusa-Jacobson, two grandsons, two great-grandsons - including one just born Saturday - and numerous nieces and nephews; he was preceded in death by his parents, his four siblings, and his son Joe, who died in a plane crash in 1997. You can read Cenarrusa’s full obituary here. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Keith Ridler.

On Monday morning, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued this statement: “No one could have been a better or more passionate advocate for the Basque people, for fair and transparent elections, or for responsible stewardship of our public lands than Pete Cenarrusa. He was an Idaho original, and I was among many in state government – on both sides of the aisle – who benefited greatly from his advice, counsel and friendship. It’s hard to imagine Idaho politics without Pete there. He loved the arena – encouraging public involvement, standing firm on his principles, gently nudging us all toward doing the right thing, and keeping us anchored in reality. Miss Lori and I send his tireless wife Freda and all Pete’s family and friends our love, sympathy and prayers.”



Cenarrusa to speak, sign memoir

Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho’s longest-serving elected official, is turning 92 and has released his memoirs, “Bizkaia to Boise: The Memoirs of Pete T. Cenarrusa.” The longtime Idaho secretary of state and former lawmaker and speaker of the House will hold a book signing on Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, 611 Grove St. At 6 p.m., the event will feature remarks by Cenarrusa and by three former AP reporters who covered his career, Quane Kenyon, Mark Warbis and Bob Fick. Copies of the new book will be available for $20, with all proceeds going to the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture.

In 2003, Cenarrusa and his wife, Freda, helped establish the Basque Studies Program at BSU; and he recently donated his papers to BSU’s Albertsons Library. The library is currently showcasing an exhibit on Cenarrusa in its second-floor Special Collections window display boxes.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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