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Remembering former Basque studies program director David Lachiondo

portrait of David Lachiondo

David Lachiondo passed away peacefully in the early hours of Friday, Aug. 7, at home with his wife Patricia by his side. He was 73 years old.

He was the director of the Basque studies program at Boise State from 2010-2013, and taught at the university from 2010-2019 on topics ranging from Basque history and culture to his area of doctoral expertise, the Spanish Civil War. He also taught classes through Boise State’s Osher Institute.

“Dave loved working with students. His passion for learning inspired them to challenge their own assumptions and to see events from multiple perspectives,” said history professor John Bieter. “I know a number of students that went on to graduate work in history and Basque studies because they took his course.”

“I remember with great fondness the passion with which Dave taught his courses. Students loved his classes,” said world languages professor Nerea Lete. “The four year old Basque children that circled around Dave while he played Basque songs on his accordion every Tuesday evening at the Basque Museum loved him, too. The children called him ‘Aitxitxe Dave’ (grandpa Dave). From ‘Atxita Dave’ to ‘Doctor Lachiondo,’ his students, no matter their age, loved him. We mourn his loss.”

Lachiondo grew up in the Boise Bench and North End neighborhoods, with strong ties to the city’s Basque community. His obituary notes that he “did not speak fluent English until he began attending first grade at St. Joseph’s. For much of his first year of formal schooling, he ran home to see his Amuma at every recess and lunch break and had to be taken back to school under duress – quite the start for a person who eventually earned a PhD in Educational Leadership.”

Nevertheless, school eventually sparked a love of learning. After being part of Bishop Kelly High School’s first graduating class, Lachiondo earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College in California, then returned to his home state to earn his master’s degree in counseling at Idaho State University, and a doctorate from the University of Idaho with a dissertation focused on education law. It was during his master’s degree that he met his wife, Patricia Smedley.

Prior to joining Boise State, Lachiondo completed a 41-year career in secondary education serving as a teacher, counselor and administrator in both public and private schools, finally settling in as principal of his alma mater, Bishop Kelly.

He also was known within and out of the Basque community for his commitment to serving others. In February, Dave received the award for Outstanding Person in the Humanities from the Idaho Humanities Council.

“Dave was my colleague and officemate for many years, and he was a pleasure to be around,” remembered John Ysursa, a history lecturer. “We never had a lull in conversations and they ranged far and wide, as Dave was a Renaissance Man who engaged with a myriad of subjects. But beyond being a good colleague and gifted teacher, he was a good friend. Anyone who had a chance to get to know him, will miss him. He always brought a positive energy into the room.”

Many recall Lachiondo’s great pride in his Basque heritage. In addition to directing and teaching in Boise State’s Basque studies program, he played accordion for the children’s dance groups and for the Basque pre-school Boiseko Ikastola. He was a member of the Biotzetik Basque Choir and played his accordion regularly on First Thursdays at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center.

While Lachiondo was a beloved educator and community member, his family was his primary joy. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who will be remembered for sharing his love of baseball, Notre Dame and even silly jokes with his grandsons.

Due to current health concerns, a private vigil and funeral service was held earlier this month. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to either the Lachiondo Family Scholarship fund at the Bishop Kelly Foundation (7009 W. Franklin Rd, Boise, ID 83709), or the Basque Museum and Cultural Center (611 Grove St. Boise, ID 83702).