Basque Center News
2015 Legacy Award Winner - Ray Mansisidor
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.
During the May Dinner, the Euzkaldunak Board of Directors announced Ray Mansisidor as this year’s award recipient.
The following is his nomination letter.
The Legacy Award exists to recognize members whose contributions have promoted and preserved the Basque Center. To explain Ray’s contributions to the Basque Center requires a step back before the Basque Center existed. Born in 1924, Ray lived and went to school in Boise until, in 1938, his family moved to Homedale where they lived in a wood-sided tent for a year while his father built their house on the sheep ranch. It was in the sheep camps where he learned to play the harmonica and button accordion, mostly by ear and practice. With few radios at the time, Ray was perpetually asked to play music for get-togethers and Basque community events. So, as it was then and still is today, you won’t find Ray too far from his accordion and willing to give us all joy with his music and fun.
Ray and his accordion perpetually promote the Basque Culture and the Basque Center directly. From the sheep camps, to the army and even logging and smoke jumping in McCall, Ray and his accordion were/are telling the story of the Basques. He drove from sheep camp to sheep camp gathering up seasoned Basque herders or the newbies in order to bring them to the Euzkaldunak dances and events. He encouraged them to join as members and to get involved in the activities. Ray met his wife at a Basque Dance and has four children, all of whom were Oinkaris, and are members of Euzkaldunak. For nearly seven decades, he has made every effort to attend Basque Center events throughout the year and encourage not only his own family but others as well to volunteer and be a part of the family that is the Basque Center and Euzkaldunak. His dedication is obvious remembering that he continually has made and still is travelling that long trip from Homedale to the Basque Center and having his accordion at the ready should there be a hint of need for music.
As for dedication, well I’m not sure about you, but riding an old army Harley Davison motorcycle with Tony Galdos on the back from Homedale to Boise just to learn the Jota from Juanita Hormaechea out on 7th Street in the late 50’s might qualify. Keep in mind that roads in Homedale at that time were little more than glorified goat trails. In 1960, he joined up with this little known group calling themselves the Oinkari Dancers. Ray both danced and played accordion alongside Jimmy Jausoro and he credits Jimmy for teaching him more about playing Basque music on the accordion. For seven years Ray drove from Homedale to Boise at least once a week, often straight off the tractor to his car, to dance practice, performances, and events, and still travels to Boise whenever the opportunity arises. Numerous stories exist of him falling asleep in his spaghetti (his favorite 3 am meal after dances) only to drive back to the farm to irrigate his crops and tend to his cattle at 5:30 am.
During the annual Euzkaldunak San Ignacio festivities, Ray voluntarily brings his accordion and entertains both on the Basque Block sidewalk and at the Municipal Park picnic. He has done this for us for decades.
For more than sixty years, Ray has volunteered at Euzkaldunak events, shared his music after Euzkaldunak dinners, for dances, for dancing groups and for Basque singers. When accordionist Kepa Junkera visited Boise a few years ago, Ray was first to volunteer his hospitality and to help with all of Kepa’s activities at Euzkaldunak and at the final Euzkaldunak performance. He has done the same with visiting Basque accordionists from Euskal Herria, Nevada, California, Oregon and New York.
Present day, Ray can still be found every First Thursday playing with other musicians at the Basque Museum. You’d be hard pressed to go too long without talking to or meeting someone that doesn’t have a Ray Mansisidor story. Most will revolve around his accordion and the numerous places he’s been. Many more will involve personal stories of his dedication and friendship within the Basque community, the Euzkaldunak events and the Basque traditions. Then there will be stories that are more appropriate after a few drinks in the Basque Center bar.
So as far as singular great deeds to the Basque center, Ray Mansisidor never built a giant wall or even a small bridge. But, if you are looking for someone that provided some of the mortar to fill the spaces between the stone in the building of what the Basque Center stands for. Then you could say Ray Mansisidor has been making the long trips from Homedale just to volunteer and be helpful. He will talk to anyone and everyone as a promoter of not just the Basque Center but the Basque culture as a whole. You need only hint at the desire for music and out will come his accordion.
Eskerrik Asko Ray! Zorionak!