The body of Idaho Secretary of State Pete. T. Cenarrusa laid in state at the Capitol yesterday, a high honor for a man who honored the state and its people throughout a remarkable career of public service.
His final resting place will be in the Bellevue Cemetery.
Cenarussa’s long life of 95 years included a record-breaking career of service. His legacy to all Idahoans is a state that is better for his efforts.
A proud son of Basque immigrants, he grew up in Carey and graduated from Bellevue High School and the University of Idaho. He was a Marine naval aviator in World War II, became a sheep rancher and was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives as a Republican in 1950 where he served nine terms, three as speaker.
He was part of the 38th Legislature in 1965 that put a 3 percent state sales tax in place. Three years ago, he told a reporter he was proud of the tax because “before that it was a patch-and-scratch effort to pay for running the government and paying for schools.”
He was right to be proud.
Funding public education is never easy, but the sales tax put education for all of Idaho’s kids on a far fairer and sounder footing than before.
As secretary of state for 36 years, he oversaw elections and mountains of business records, and served on the Idaho Land Board, which manages state-owned lands for the benefit of schools.
Ben Ysursa, his friend and successor as secretary of state, said his mentor was “the epitome of a true public servant.”
Cenarussa’s life positively affected every Idahoan. It was one that should inspire the politicians of today to higher ethics, evenhanded government an