Family and friends bid ‘adios’ to Pete Cenarrusa at Boise’s St. John’s Cathedral

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comOctober 5, 2013 

Pete Cenarrusa’s successor, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, said in his eulogy that people still confuse him with his boss of 28 years — even a decade after the retirement of Cenarrusa, who spent half a century in state office.

Ysursa said a friend once asked if he was bothered by those who conflated the two.

“Absolutely not,” Ysursa recalled replying, his voice breaking slightly. “To be referred to as Pete Cenarrusa is the highest compliment you could give me. Adios, my friend.”

Pete Cenarrusa was no saint, the Rev. Tom Faucher said in his homily. But he was a man who called God a friend, acted with honesty and integrity, and was beloved by his family.

Cenarrusa, whose only child, Joe, died in a plane crash in 1997, sometimes argued with God about the fairness of life, Faucher said. “Pete felt when he needed God most, his friend God was silent,” he said.

But their relationship carried on. In the final weeks of his life, he asked to receive communion at home.

“Pete reverenced God and expected reverence in return,” Faucher told the crowd of about 600. “Pete said to me once, ‘Well, God and I just got used to each other.’ ”

Cenarrusa never turned down someone in need, Ysursa said.

Among those was Pedro Loyola, who came from Peru to work at Cenarrusa’s sheep ranch 25 years ago. Loyola is now sheep foreman for the rancher who bought out Cenarrusa and his wife, Freda, 13 years ago. In honor of Cenarrusa, Loyola will lead a riderless horse in the Oct. 13 parade at the 17th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum.

“He was like a father for us sheepmen,” Loyola said at a Basque Center lunch after the service attended by about 350 people. “He was a good man.”

The Cenarrusas helped Loyola through the immigration process, from temporary status to permanent residency to citizenship oath. “Pete and Freda were with me,” Loyola said.

The Cenarrusas’ daughter-in-law, Jean Cenarrusa-Jacobson, said the family is grateful for the outpouring of affection since Cenarrusa’s death Sunday, at age 95.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said.

Among those at Friday’s service were dozens of elected and former elected officials, including Gov. Butch Otter, former Govs. Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt, and former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig.

“He was the best,” said Cenarrusa-Jacobson. “He was just the best.”

Ysursa said Cenarrusa was a man who lived by the golden rule and 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.”

Dan Popkey: 377-6438

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