By Nancy Zubiri
It was a family affair. Cousins Gracian Goyhenetche and Bob Ithurralde managed to bring together 130 members of their family during the big Basque NABO festival in Reno, Nevada in July.
As different family members arrived at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno on Saturday July 25 while the 30th annual NABO convention was in full swing, they donned red neck scarfs stamped “Goyhenetche Family Reunion.”
Cousins Bob Ithurralde and Gracian Goyhenetche have remained close over the years despite distances.
“It’s nice to see cousins,” said Joe Goyhenetche, as he talked with family members near the bandstand at Wingfield Park. “Just to see your family is really important.” He came to the weekend festival with his wife, Stacy, who is expecting a boy in November. She planned to wear a custom-made t-shirt to dinner that pointed to her belly, signaling “the newest Goyhenetche.”
The clan represented the descendents of three brothers, Joanes, Manes and Pierre Goyhenetche, from the small Basque town of Esnazu in France. The three came to the United States to make money herding sheep. Unlike many of their compatriots, Gracian Goyhenetche noted, “they actually went back.”
Manes married in the Basque Country and had 13 children, and Joanes had seven. Then, Joanes’ wife passed away and he decided to come back to the U.S. to make money to support his family.
“One by one he brought his children to the U.S.” said Goyhenetche.
Eventually children of all three brothers ended up here, many in Eureka, Nevada and San Francisco, Calif.
For years, Gracian Goyhenetche’s parents operated the Obrero, a Basque hotel in San Francisco. During the summers, they shipped Gracian off to his cousins’ farm near Eureka, the Pinto Creek Ranch.
Bob’s mother and my father were brother and sister, explained Goyhenetche. “I remember the first time they put me on a Greyhound bus in San Francisco. I was 10,” he said. The young boy had to transfer in Reno with his suitcase to catch the bus down to Eureka. His mother advised him to sit up front near the bus driver.
His aunt put him to work, feeding the chickens and the lambs, working in the hay and doing other chores on the family farm.
“I had so much fun,” Goyhenetche recalled. Those visits, which continued for several summers, solidified Goyhenetche’s ties with that side of the family.
Stacy Goyhenetche, who attended the reunion, is expecting the newest Goyhenetche.
For the reunion, the entire group gathered at the Santa Fe, a long-time Basque restaurant in Reno, to eat Basque food and tell old stories. The Santa Fe has a special place in the history of the family. It’s where Gracian’s father always took the family to eat on their way to Eureka. And it’s where Bob Ithurralde’s parents met.
Daniel Goyhenetche, 20, who attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and comes home to Yuba City, Calif. in the summers , was happy to join the Basque festivities in Reno and spend time with his extended family. “I don’t get to see it much. It’s my culture,” he said.
Joe Goyhenetche was happy that family members were able to make it to Reno. Today, family members are spread across California and Nevada.
“Even though we’re from everywhere,” he said, “it’s nice we can get together.”