Albert “Al” Erquiaga slipped peacefully from this world on September 10, 2022, from natural causes.
Al is well known for his many contributions to the preservation and continuation of the local Basque culture. But what truly distinguishes his life is the vast number of people with whom he shared a deep connection, people of all ages from all walks of life. Al’s love for people was endless, genuine, and authentic, and thus wildly infectious. He was humble and selfless to a fault. To know him was to have an honest, gregarious friend.
Al made friends by sharing his beloved Basque culture. He never tired of showing how special it was to pretty much anyone. If you weren’t Basque, you would know you were welcome to be as Basque as you wanted, from just trying a chorizo to joining the Biotzetik choir. Should you be Basque, he probably knew you already, your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles and many cousins. And he would ask you to join the choir. If you were already counted among his friends, you were likely to be recruited to participate in a grand project to promote Basque culture; and as his closest friends will tell you, “You couldn’t say ‘no’ to Al Erquiaga.”
A listing of Al’s awards and accomplishments is impressively long. He was most proud of his pioneering involvement in the Oinkari dancers, the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) and Jaialdi, and he was thrilled to receive the 2002 NABO Lifetime Contribution Award, the 2004 Euskaldunak Lifetime Legacy Award, and to be inducted in 2005 into The Society of Basque Studies in America, Hall of Fame. Al was always humble about the accolades he received; in private he never boasted about these successes but instead gave credit to the hundreds of volunteers who made them happen.
Though many will greatly miss this wonderful man, it is comforting to know his life was not cut short. He truly lived a very long and good life filled with love, prosperity, and quite frankly more fun than anyone could ask for. He had few unmet aspirations, lived where he wanted to, and loved whom he wanted. He had his pride and his dignity, and good times with friends, to the very end. If life is a game, Al won.
Al was preceded in death by his father (Tomas Erquiaga), mother (Anita Echevarria Erquiaga), and his sister (Alice Erquiaga Olson). He is survived by his brother-in-law, Jack Olson, and niece and nephew, Kathy and Steven Olson, and a large number of cousins with whom he shared many good times. He is also survived by his devoted partner, Jerry Loyd.
Contributions can be made to the Biotzetik Basque Choir, c/o 601 Grove Street, Boise, Idaho 83702 or the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, 611 Grove Street, Boise, Idaho 83702 or to a charity that is important to you and would honor Al’s memory.
Viewing will be at Cloverdale Funeral Home on Sunday, September 25th at 6:00 p.m. with the recitation of the rosary to follow. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mark’s Church on Monday, September 26th at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall. Private family interment will occur at a later date.