Valley icon Eddie Basha passed away Tuesday at the age of 75. His family-owned grocery stores are a staple here in our state.
His legacy is well documented. Not only was he a successful businessman and a strong believer in public education, he was a local philanthropist who supported a number of worthy causes all across the state.
His friends and former colleagues say he's truly someone who shaped history here in Arizona.
Listen to Eddie Basha in his own words in this documentary by the Arizona Historical League.
"I would want my epitaph to say, 'Eddie Basha, he was a good man but a bad boy and that's how I want to be remembered,'" said Basha.
He was born and raised in Chandler, the great-grandson of Lebanese immigrants. The Stanford grad took over his family's grocery store business at the age of 31.
He ran for governor in 1994, but didn't win. Former AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard lost to him in the primary.
"It was one of the silliest things I've done because I was up against an Arizona legend, someone people knew and respected regardless of party," said Goddard.
Goddard says Basha's commitment and love for our state was incredible.
"It's very hard to lose someone who's so important to Arizona, so much a part of the substance of the state, what makes it special. Eddie Basha was all of that."
Basha was involved with numerous charities, including St. Vincent de Paul. He also played a big role in the downtown homeless shelter the Boys and Girls Club.
"There are certain sectors of the community who have never had a champion like him. The Native American community -- he's done so much for them," said former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods.
Grant Woods had been friends with Basha for years. He says anyone who knew Eddie knew his sense of humor.
"At least a dozen times in my life I've gotten frantic phone calls from strange people who are disappointed in something I've done, and it was always him. He's quite the impersonator."
Basha leaves behind a wife and six sons. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Eddie Basha's son said this to Bashas' employees: "He considered himself to be a Bashas' member, no different than any other, and he considered all Bashas' members to be a part of his family. During Eddie's lifetime he faced many challenges, the last few years being among the most challenging. But his desire to serve the people of the state he loved so well, and to take care of the members that he cared for so much, always gave him strength in the face of adversity."
Full statement from Bashas'
It's with the heaviest of hearts that my family and I share news we'd hoped never to have to share: Eddie passed away today.
We want to share with you just how much Eddie loved Bashas', its members and its customers. From our earliest childhood, he always reinforced to us the importance of our members and giving back to our community. Some of his fondest times were being with Bashas' members and customers, whether at the office, the Distribution Center or in the stores.
To us, and to many of you, Eddie was always larger than life, and he gave his heart and soul to Bashas' Family of Stores. Ironically, Eddie never saw himself that way. He considered himself to be a Bashas' member, no different than any other, and he considered all Bashas' members to be a part of his family. During Eddie's lifetime he faced many challenges, the last few years being among the most challenging. But his desire to serve the people of the state he loved so well, and to take care of the members that he cared for so much, always gave him strength in the face of adversity.
It is our collective strength that has seen us through difficult days. This strength will continue to move us forward, even though we have suffered such a tragic loss. As a family, we want to thank you for your devotion, thoughts and prayers.
Statement by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Eddie Basha was a giant in our state's history. Not only as a business leader but as a passionate advocate for education. He served selflessly on the Chandler Unified School District Board, Arizona Board of Education and the Arizona Board of Regents. It is because of Eddie and Nadine we have First Things First, giving thousand of Arizona children a chance for early childhood education. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
Statement from Governor Jan Brewer
It was with sadness that I learned this afternoon of the passing of Eddie Basha. I had known and worked with him throughout my 30 years in public service. Regardless of the issue - and we did not always come down on the same side - I invariably found him to be genuine in his beliefs and a gentleman in his actions.
Eddie was Arizona through and through. Born of a pioneer Arizona family, Eddie grew to become one of our state's giants in business, politics and community service. He loved Arizona, and it showed in his decades of devoted work on behalf of Arizona schools and students.
Eddie Basha showed all that could - and still can - be accomplished in Arizona with hard work, dedication to community and love of family. That may be his most lasting legacy, and it's one for which his family can be proud.
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