John Urlezaga

John Cruz Urlezaga was born in Jordan Valley Oregon, on June 25, 1909, to Juan Urlezaga and Gloria Bermeosolo Urlezaga.  John grew up with music in his home in Jordan Valley and at their 1000-acre ranch 6 miles out of town. John always played by ear and entertained many people at Basque dances and gatherings in Jordan Valley, Boise and Grandview, Idaho. John played the accordion, piano and organ all by ear and also played for many family gatherings.  He attended high school for 2 years. 

John owned a large truck in Jordan Valley and transported large wool bags and other goods to Boise, Idaho, about 1930 when he was 21 years old.

John was a member of the Boise Senators 1937 baseball team and served as their catcher. Even though he had several broken fingers he always still played music for everyone.  John nicknames were "Dynamite", "Wildhorse" and "Battering Basque" which reflected his colorful style and hitting strength.  He was consistently the team leader in average and slugging percentage.   John played for Ontario in 1938 and batted that team to the second-half title and a playoff with his former teammates at Boise - a series they won for the championship of the Idaho-Oregon League.

John entered civil service in April of 1942, and was sent to Alaska to survey.  He also cut the hair of many of his fellow servicemen in Alaska.

John returned to Boise on April 5,1943.  On June 18, 1943, he enlisted in the US Army Engineers and trained at Gowen Field in Boise and Geiger Field in Spokane.  He served as a staff car driver until January of 1945.  He then requested overseas duty and was sent to Okinawa.  He was honorably discharged December 17, 1945.  He married Carmen Erdoisa on January 28,1947, at St. John's Cathedral in Boise.

In 1948 John worked in Boise as a bartender at the Bouquet Cigar Store. On February 23, 1954, John attended the Idaho Department of Highways first sign school.  He was a long-time employee of the Department of Highways and retired from there after painting many of the Idaho's highway signs.

After a successful career as an entrepreneur with his truck, playing wonderful Basque & other music all his life,  a successful baseball career, the State of Idaho Highway employee and retiree, and great family man, he passed away on October 22, 1994 in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 85. 

This information was provided by John’s niece, Gloria Subisarreta Miller.

John Urlezaga playing his keyboard piano.