Former Idaho Secretary Of State Pete Cenarrusa Dies

Sep 29, 2013

Pete Cenarrusa, a Basque-American who held state office in Idaho uninterrupted for more than five decades, has died. He was 95.

Cenarrusa died about noon on Sunday at his home in Boise after a battle with lung cancer, said Roy Eiguren, president of the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture.

Cenarrusa's wife of 66 years, Freda, was at his side.

Cenarrusa was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1950 and served nine terms, including three terms as Speaker. Governor Don Samuelson appointed him Idaho Secretary of State in 1967.

He held that post for nearly 36 years, retiring in 2003 at age 85.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter released a statement Sunday noting that "Pete was the longest serving elected official in Idaho history and he also was the the most loyal -- loyal to his constituents, his Basque heritage, his family, and everyone whose life he touched, including mine."  

Bieter wrote he was proud to have worked with Cenarrusa to support Basque culture while in the Idaho Legislature and to have been his friend. "His passing is an enormous loss for Idaho," Bieter said. "There will never be another Pete Cenarrusa. My heart goes out to his family."

Cenarrusa is survived by his wife, daughter-in-law Jean Cenarrusa-Jacobson and her husband Greg, two grandsons and two great grandchildren.