Bashas' CEO and Chairman Eddie Basha dies
Eddie Basha, the CEO and Chairman of the Bashas' family-owned grocery store chain in Arizona died yesterday. Basha's family said he had been ill for some time. Basha was an Arizona Board of Regent member for several years and also ran for governor. Eddie Basha was a part of Arizona’s history.
NADINE ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Eddie Basha was an Arizona native who graduated from Chandler High School and Stanford University. Basha’s father and his uncle opened the first family owned grocery store in 1932. When his father died in the late 1960s, then 31-year-old Basha, took over the small Chandler supermarket business and created a chain of about 160 stores. He was passionate about education and Arizona schools. Basha was appointed to the Arizona Board of Education in 1984 and then the Board of Regents in 1990. Former ASU President Lattie Coor worked closely with Basha.
LATTIE COOR: Arizona, his family, education, those three together. He loved his business, and he was committed to the family business, but education and his family and what that represented for Arizona is what categorized him most.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Basha became an Arizona household name while appearing in his grocery stores’ commercials. He used his name and that recognition to run for governor in 1994, but lost to Fife Symington. Again, Lattie Coor.
LATTIE COOR: He knew it would be a grueling campaign, but it was a step into a world that was new to him and with hopes that by being a candidate he could help set the direction from Arizona.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: A drop in sales during the recession prompted his grocery store chain to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Soon after, Basha’s closed more than 30 stores. Those who knew him say he was a fighter who never let those tough times get him down. He also had a reputation as a prankster.
U.S. SENATOR DeCONCINI: He used to call me up and make believe he was somebody he wasn’t and often he was able to fool me.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini reminisces about his friendship with Basha.
DeCONCINI: He called me about being a mayor in Louisiana. He asked me, this is when I was in the lobbying business, and I didn’t know it was Eddie Basha of course, if in fact I would represent this little town in Louisiana. And he went on about how a great man I was. He said to me you know you’re so nice Senator, but you just didn’t tip very much. And then, I realized who it was and I broke down and laughed.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Basha wore many hats, but it’s his charitable work that many people remember best. The former president of the Navajo Nation, Peterson Zah, says Basha donated thousands of dollars to a Navajo education fund to send students to college. When Eddie Basha opened seven grocery stores on the reservation he trained the locals to work and manage them. Zah says Basha made sure the Navajo employees knew they were working for the reservation, not for him.
PETERSON ZAH: Eddie kind of signaled to some of those managers that he wasn’t doing very well healthwise, and that it was going to be up to them to carry on the spirit to continue to build a better relationship with their own people.
ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Eddie Basha died Tuesday. He was 75 years old.