BOISE — Secretary of State Ben Ysursa eulogized Pete Cenarrusa Friday as a man who lived by the golden rule, loved his family, country and ancestral home.
Greeted at heaven's gate, said Ysursa, Saint Peter told Cenarrusa, "Hello and welcome to the Basque Country."
Ysursa spoke to about 600 people at the funeral for his former boss at St. John's Cathedral in Boise.
"In Pete's heaven, sheep eat coyotes," Ysursa said of the longtime sheepman, former House speaker and secretary of state.
Cenarrusa died Sunday at age 95. When he retired as secretary of state in 2003, Cenarrusa was the longest-serving state official in Idaho history.
The service drew dozens of elected and former elected officials, including Gov. Butch Otter and former Govs. Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt and former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig.
Also on hand: Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Controller Brandon Woolf, Treasurer Ron Crane and Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones, House Speaker Scott Bedke, University of Idaho President Don Burnett, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Ada County Commissioners Jim Tibbs and Rick Yzaguirre. Former officeholders included Controllers Donna Jones, Keith Johnson and J.D. Williams, Attorney General Tony Park and Speaker Bruce Newcomb.
Ysursa closed his eulogy by saying he is still mistakenly called "Pete" or "Cenarrusa" and that a friend once asked if that offended his politician's ego.
"Absolutely not," Ysursa replied. "To be referred to as Pete Cenarrusa is the highest compliment you could give me."
The Rev. Tom Faucher's homily focused on the Cenarrusa's life as a Catholic, a man who considered God a friend.
"Pete reverenced God and expected reverence in return," Faucher said. "Pete said to me once, 'Well, God and I just got used to each other.'"
Faucher said the two pillars of Cenarrusa's life were his mother, Ramona, and his wife, Freda. Ramona made sure Cenarrusa and his four siblings were baptized, got to church and took their First Communion, he said.
To Mrs. Cenarrusa, sitting at the front of the cathedral, Faucher said, "You made Pete possible."