Tag: CBS Advisory Board

Prestigious award for great friend of the Center

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As part of the ongoing celebrations held in conjunction with the unique experience that is the annual Durangoko Azoka, the Basque Book and Record Fair held in Durango, Bizkaia, the  prestigious Argizaiola Award is presented to people who, in the bleakest of moments, have managed to bring light and warmth to Basque culture; to keep the culture going, in other words, when the chips are down. In 2013, for example, our very own Bill Douglass received the award.

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Five of the recipients of the 2016 Argizaiola Award, L to R: jaime Albillos Arnaiz, Kepa Mendia Landa, Carmen Belaza, Jose Ramon Zengotitabengoa, and Justo Alberdi Artetxe. Image taken from the Durangoko Azoka website.

This year, the award has been given to six people to represent the hundreds of individuals who have over the years carried out inurri-lana (literally “ant work”) in favor of Basque culture. In sum, this is public recognition for the often overlooked tireless efforts, long hours, and great personal investment of so many people to keep Basque culture alive and thriving. The six individuals were chosen to represent specific geographical areas – five in the Basque Country itself: Kepa Mendia Landa (Araba),  Justo Alberdi Artetxe (Bizkaia), Jaime Albillos Arnaiz (Gipuzkoa), Patxika Erramuzpe (Iparralde), and Carmen Belaza (Nafarroa); and one to represent the Basque Diaspora: our great friend Jose Ramon Zengotitabengoa, whose son Sam now represents the family on the Center’s Advisory Board.

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Examples of an argizaiola, or “board of wax,” a kind of coiled ornamental candle. In many traditional cultures,  any light-giving source, anything to keep darkness at bay, holds a special place in the human imagination. Photo by Juan San Martin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jose Ramon, a Bizkaian born in Zaldibar in 1938 and raised in the  Durango district, has certainly had an eventful life involving much traveling. At age fifteen he left home to pursue his studies. He went to university in Liège, Belgium, for five years before moving to England, where he lived and worked for nine years, followed by a two-year stay in Germany. Eventually, he moved to the United States, where he enjoyed a successful thirty-five-year business career in Chicago as well as raising a family before retirement. Through his and others’ efforts, the Society for Basque Studies in America was established, which served as a catalyst for numerous academic initiatives to promote and study Basque culture in the US. He also played a prominent role in establishing Nestor Basterretxea’s Basque Sheepherders’ Monument in Reno and served on the Center’s advisory board for many years.

Zorionak, Jose Ramon, and all the other “ants” who have done so much for Basque culture over the years!

 

Center mourns death of Juan Zelaia

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Juan Zelaia, photo via Euskal Kultura. 

Juan Zelaia, an honorary member of the Center’s Advisory Board, passed away on August 10 at the age of 95. Born in Oñati, Gipuzkoa, in 1920, Zelaia was a towering figure of the Basque business world, but also renowned for his many and varied philanthropic endeavors in support of Basque culture in general and the Basque language in particular.

After completing a doctorate in industrial engineering from Bilbao’s School of Engineering in 1947, Zelaia went on to head several different companies.The battery company Cegasa, founded in 1934 thanks to the technical inspiration of a Basque-Chilean relative, was the family starting point from which he developed his later industrial initiatives. These included Tuboplast Hispania (plastic packaging for cosmetics, chemists, etc.: Vitoria-Gasteiz and Vichy, 1964) and Hidronor (recuperation, treatment, and management of industrial waste, 1973). He was Executive President of all three, and actively participated in industries in other sectors such as food and drink, commercialization, cartridges, etc.

Zelaia was a well-know benefactor for numerous Basque cultural initiatives such as the ikastolas or Basque-language medium schools, the terminology and lexicography center UZEI, and the Tximist Expedition to Everest. In 2000 he was awarded both the Sabinio Arana Prize and the Basque government’s Lan Onari award for his lifetime committment to Basque business. Likewise, he received both the Antton d’Abbadia Award (2002) and the Gold Medal of Gipuzkoa (2003) from the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa for his services to Basque culture, as well as the Argizaiola Award from the Durango Book  Fair (2008) and the Nabarralde Prize (2014).  

Linked personally by family ties to the Basque-American diaspora, he always encouraged the meeting of both Basque Countries (the one on European soil and the one found throughout the world). As promoter and president of K.A. Euskal Fundazioa, he sought to make this a cultural meeting place for all Basques.

Here at the Center we would like to express our deepest sympathy to his family.

Goian bego.