In 2001, the Euzkaldunak Board introduced the Legacy Award. This award is given to individuals who have exhibited a long-term commitment to the goals of Euzkaldunak. The following is the nomination letter for the 2017 Legacy Award recipient, Julian Lete.
On behalf of the Basque Foundation Board of Directors, I am honored to present the 2017 Basque Foundation legacy award to Juli Lete, who needs no introduction in the Basque Community.
Julian Inaki Lete Pagoaga was born on September 20, 1962 to Basque immigrant parents, Jose and Carmen Lete. Jose was from the baserri of Eguizabal in Elosua, Bergara and Carmen from the baserri of Arantzamendi in Mutriku.
At the time of his birth, Jose and Carmen along with Juan and Flora Aldazabal leased and were running the Letemendi Boarding House located directly across the street from the Basque Center. It’s ironic to think that Juli lived his first 18 months across the street from where he would eventually end up working a majority of his life!
From the very beginnings at the boarding house followed by another 14 years at the sheep camp, Juli’s childhood was surrounded by mostly Basque people. He didn’t speak English when he entered first grade at Marsing Elementary, but luckily was classmates with Esteban Lejardi, who could speak both English and Basque. Luckily for Juli the two boys sat together, which was probably more for the teacher than the boys.
At the age of 12 Juli worked for Marcel Elordi, a neighboring farmer, changing sprinklers and helping with other farming duties. Marcel appreciated his abilities to fix equipment. When Juli turned 15 he was hired by Albertson’s in Nampa as a box boy, then worked in the produce department and stocking shelves for several years. His family moved to Nampa in 1979 where he completed his senior year at Nampa High in 1980. From an early age he became the family “fix-it man”. Whenever anything breaks or is not working, the Lete family always counts on Juli,
though probably not as much as the Basque Center has over the past three decades.
He attended the University of Idaho for three years and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He continued taking classes at Boise State and ended up working at the old Victor’s Lounge, first as a barback and then as a bartender.
Bartending is where Juli made his career. This year marks Juli’s 30th year working for the Basque Center. As most of you know, bartending is just one of the many jobs Juli performs for the Center. Juli isn’t just a bartender – he does everything. Annually he helps organize, works and makes sure everything is done for such events as the monthly dinners, mortzilla making, the sheepherders ball, San Ignacio, and mus and briska tournaments, just to name a few.
One thing that many members do not know is that the families of all Basque Center past presidents and legacy award winners receive an Ikurrina at their funeral. This is a tribute to those who have passed who served the Basque Center and community. Juli is always the one making sure the family receives the gift and the funerals go off without a glitch.
Aside from working at the Center, Juli also served a term on the Board of Directors from 1989 to 1990.
Juli has done just as much, if not more, than anyone else associated with the Basque Center. Throughout his career he has helped countless sheepherders who were stranded at the Center, as well as assisted foreigners and out-of-towners attending Jaialdi. Juli truly is not only an ambassador for the Center but for the entire Boise Basque Community.
Every Oinkari has a million Juli stories; I know I sure do. He always took care of us, whether it be getting us on the bus for a performance or waiting for us after he closed the bar to return from a trip. He has done this since he started working at the Center and continues to do it.
Juli is commonly referred to as the “Godfather” of the Basque Center, a name truly fitting. It doesn’t matter what you did on a Saturday night, the next time he sees you he greets you with a huge smile and treats you with respect. And he treats non-members with the same respect.
For these and many more reasons, once again I am truly honored to present you with the 2017 Basque Foundation legacy award winner, Julian Lete.
– Submitted by the Euzkaldunak Board, May 2017