Pete T. Cenarrusa
Cenarrusa in July 2010
|Secretary of State of Idaho|
May 1, 1967 – January 6, 2003
|Preceded by||Edson H. Deal|
|Succeeded by||Ben Ysursa|
Pete Thomas Cenarrusa
December 16, 1917
Carey, Idaho, U.S.
|Died||September 29, 2013 (aged 95)|
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Resting place||Bellevue Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Freda Coates Cenarrusa|
(m. 1947–2013, his death)
|Children||1 son: Joe (1948–1997)|
|Alma mater||University of Idaho|
B.S. (agric.) 1940
|Service/branch||U.S. Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1942–1945,|
|Battles/wars||World War II, Cold War|
Pete Thomas Cenarrusa (December 16, 1917 – September 29, 2013) was an American Republican politician from Idaho. He served continuously for over half a century in elective office, first as a member of the Idaho Legislature and then as Secretary of State.
Born in Carey, Idaho, Cenarrusa graduated from the territorial school in Bellevue and attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he was a member of the Vandals' boxing team and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1940 and taught math and science and coached in Carey, Cambridge, and Glenns Ferry. During World War II, Cenarrusa was an aviator in the Marine Corps.
Cenarrusa was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives from Blaine County in 1950. He served in that capacity for 16 years, including six as speaker of the house.
In 1967, Cenarrusa was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Don Samuelson to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Edson H. Deal, and took office on May 1. Cenarussa was elected to a full term in 1970. He was reelected seven times (1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998). Cenarrusa did not run for reelection in 2002, instead supporting his longtime chief deputy, Ben Ysursa. Upon leaving office Cenarrusa was the longest-serving secretary of state in the United States. Cenarrusa is also the longest-serving elected public official in Idaho history, having held elective office for a total of 52 years.
The son of Basque immigrants from Bizkaia and a native speaker of the Basque language, Cenarrusa has been a longtime proponent of increased autonomy in the Basque Country, particularly in Spain. In the 1970s he worked with the Democratic U.S. Senator from Idaho, Frank Church, in an effort to curtail foreign aid to the Franco regime. Cenarrusa has also appealed for clemency for Basque political prisoners in Spain.
In 2003, Pete and Freda Cenarrusa organized the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture (originally the Cenarrusa Center for Basque Studies), which promotes the culture and history of the Basques by providing resources for performances, presentations and programs and to organizations throughout Idaho and Oregon.
A state office building near the state capitol was named for him in 1998. Built in the late 1970s, it is on the site ( of the old St. Alphonsus Hospital, which was vacated in 1972 and demolished a few years later. It is opposite the )state supreme court building on State Street.
- You Tube – Pete Cenarrusa at age 90 in 2008
- "Seniors". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1940. p. 43.
- "About my university: Pete Cenarrusa". University of Idaho. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Russell, Betsy Z. (September 29, 2013). "Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho's longest serving elected official, dies at age 95". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Retrieved May 10, 2016.
- Totoricagüena, Gloria (March 2004). "Pete T. Cenarrusa: A Post-Modern Basque". Euskonews & Media. 247. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- "Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee Pete T. Cenarrusa '40 Still Fighting for the University of Idaho". University of Idaho. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- "Secretary of state dies". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. April 23, 1967. p. 1.
- "Samuelson names Cenarrusa Idaho's secretary of state". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. April 27, 1967. p. 1.
- The Public Career of Pete Cenarrusa (accessed 17 January 2012)
- A Biography. Boise State Library
- Lansorena, Igor (March 23, 2010). "Pete Cenarrusa, a core pillar of Basque culture in Boise". eitb.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Totoricagüena, Gloria. "Pete T. Cenarrusa: A Post-Modern Basque". euskonews.com. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- "About the Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture", in the website of the foundation. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- Pete Cenarrusa Biography (accessed 17 January 2012)
- The Cenarrusa Foundation for Basque Culture
- University of Idaho – Pete Cenarrusa
- Boise State University - Albertsons Library – Pete Cenarrusa collection
- Pete Cenarrusa at Find a Grave
Edson H. Deal
| Secretary of State of Idaho
May 1, 1967–January 6, 2003