Agustin Andueza 1926-2013

Posted on April 17th in Obituaries

Following a short illness, Agustin Andueza, 87, died April 5 in Portland.

Agustin was born March 15, 1926, in Lesaka, Navarra, Spain.

He was the 11th of 15 children born to Jose Andueza and Antonia Larralde, joining seven brothers and seven sisters.  Agustin lived a difficult life as a child. He grew up extremely poor, getting his first job herding sheep on a neighboring farm at the tender young age of 8, when his mother was widowed with 15 kids. Agustin would return home once a month to give all of his earnings to his mother.

After serving two years in the Spanish Army, Agustin came to America in June 1951 at the age of 25 to work in the sheep industry. Having spent several years working in the California and Nevada mountains, Agustin moved to Oregon in 1960, where he was the sheep foreman for Allied Corporation in Harney County. In 1961, he returned to the Basque country and married Juanita Sanzberro.

In 1962, their first son, Eugenio, was born, followed by daughter, Ana Isabel, in 1963. In 1967, Agustin brought his family to Burns, and daughter, Rosa Yvette, was born the following year.  Agustin spent the next 24 years working for the Edward Hines Lumber Company. Agustin always worked very hard and made many sacrifices in his own life to ensure that his family would not have to endure the same poverty and suffering as he did. He truly was an example of having lived “The American Dream.” Furthermore, he served as a surrogate father to several of his nephews, as well as many other recently arrived young Basque immigrants, as these young men found themselves in a new country, facing a new culture and a new language. Agustin supported them financially, as well as emotionally, as they adjusted to life in America.

On many Sundays, after attending church, Agustin would take the family to the Plaza Hotel (formerly located across from Safeway) to spend the day with friends eating, drinking, singing, dancing, playing “Mus” (Basque poker) and telling countless stories about the old days in sheep camp. Before going home for the evening, Agustin would always do a drive-by of the Star Hotel (another Basque boarding house located in Burns on Alder Street) for a nightcap or two, and to visit with more friends.

Every summer, Agustin would take the family on vacation to visit relatives in California, and/or attend Basque festivals in Nevada where he would compete as a wood chopper, often beating much younger competitors. While he didn’t always win, he consistently performed well enough to collect some prize money and be invited to return the following year.

Agustin was known for his generosity, both in terms of time and money, when it came to helping others. He could often be seen mowing a neighbor’s yard, shoveling their snow or helping friends with carpentry or ranch work. Agustin was also known to have given away tons of fresh produce from his immaculate gardens to anyone who asked or who just simply stopped by to visit.

Agustin enjoyed his retirement years working in the garden, fishing and occasionally traveling back to Spain. Agustin loved nothing more than being in the company of family and good friends, enjoying a glass of red wine, playing cards with friends and telling stories until the wee hours of the morning.

Agustin is survived by his wife of 51 years, Juanita, of Burns; son, Geno, of Eugene; daughters, Ana of Portland and Rosie of Boise, Idaho; and four grandchildren,  Oyana, Maya, Sebastian and Olivia. He is also survived by three siblings in Spain, brother, Jose Antonio Andueza; and sisters, Carmen Andueza and Tere Andueza Tellerria; as well as numerous nieces and nephews throughout the United States, Spain and France.

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