Barrutia, John

Mikel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Mountain Home, ID
Interview Date: 

John was born on 6 March 1931 in Mountain Home, Idaho, to Basque immigrants Cipriano Barrutia and Juanita Mandiola.  His father had worked in the United States as a young man, even starting his own sheep ranch, but a call to duty from the Spanish military brought him back to Euskadi, where he married John's mother.  The couple found a very different America when they returned--devastated by the Depression--and the sheep company they were relying upon was lost.  John vividly remembers his early life as his parents struggled to raise their family (losing a few children along the way) during hard times, but notes that life had its wonderful moments as well.

Even though John grew up speaking Basque at home, he was quick to learn English once he began school, and except for a few tensions during WWII, he always felt very integrated into the Mountain Home community.  Overcoming a debilitating knee injury to the surprise of all, John went on to become an accomplished athlete, an industrious worker, and a loyal soldier during the Korean War.  He used his GI bill to obtain a degree from the University of Washington, and later worked on a variety of private and government contracts.  John wed French Canadian Marie Perrin in 1964, and has 4 living children.

Today, John remains active both within and without the Idaho Basque community.  He is an avid runner, and participates in several annual races.  John was also a charter member of the Oinkari dance group, a passion he has passed on to his kids.  He involves himself in the Mountain Home Basque Association, and has taken a few trips to Euskadi to see his parents' homeland.  All in all, John Barrutia is a very proud American Basque.

Audio Recording: 
Overcoming a knee injury
Parents greeted by the Great Depression
Other Images: