Eddie Basha, a true Arizona legend, died Tuesday at the age of 75. Basha was known for his family's chain of grocery stores -- and also for his work in the community.
He ran for governor in the 90s and donated millions of dollars to education and the arts.
He was an avid art collector who chose to share with everyone in a building that was home to the first Bashas grocery store. We visited the Bashas' art gallery and the high school that bears his name.
It's quite a legacy Eddie leaves behind. Eddie Basha was passionate about his family, his business and his customers.
Inside Bashas' modest headquarters in Chandler, his other passion is on display. A massive collection of western American and Native American art.
"His fingerprints are all over this place -- if you want to know Eddie, spend some time in this gallery and you will get a good sense of the man," said Rob Johnson, Bashas' Public Relations.
Eddie was the curator of the art gallery named after his aunt who was an artist. With 3,000 pieces on display, it's open to the public free, five days a week.
Eddie was there last Thursday, re-arranging pieces of art on this wall, where hooks now sit empty.
"He loved to come into the gallery and talk to visitors and tell them the story of each piece because he knows the story. These aren't just random paintings that he thought were pretty, these are something that meant something to him," said Johnson.
His legacy also lives on at Basha High School in Chandler, where he made sure teachers had whatever they needed.
"Being the man that he was, I was just amazed at his personality. He wasn't this guy that was kind of pompous, he was kind of joking, and very very easy going," said Gerald Todd, Basha High School teacher and coach.
"He wanted the spotlight on the school and not him. And that even though it was named after him it was more about the legacy perhaps and the support of public education," said choir director Vance Acker.
Eddie himself graduated from Stanford with a degree in history, then went to work for Bashas' doing every job from cutting meat to running the cash register before taking over the family company in 1968.
Basha Gallery of Western and Native American Art
22402 S. Basha Road
Chandler, AZ 85248
480-895-5230, press option 2
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