Arnaud “Basco” Elissalde was born on May 24, 1929, in Iholdy a small French village in the Basque country, of about 600 people.
His parents were Bernard Elissalde, a Basque farmer, and Gratianne Sallaberry. His mother was the fourth child in a family of 13. Arnaud was the eldest. He had 9 brothers and sisters of which 5 are still alive: Marie Jeanne, born in 1932; Marianne, born in 1936; Francios, born in 1937; Isabelle, born in 1940 and Angele, born in 1943.
He was known in his village as clever, adventurous and open minded. On May 24, 1950, the day of his 21st birthday, he flew to the USA, as did many of the young people at that time. He landed in Miles City, Montana and ended up in Jordan in 1968. Sivert O. Mysse sponsored “Basco” through a sheepherder’s program. When Arnaud got to America, he herded sheep for various people, including Sivert Mysee, Fred Edwards, Pete Minkoff and “Big Mitch” Guesanburu. Basco also lambed for Dale Kreider and Freddy Itchina in the spring, did contract fencing for Fred Hout, became a butcher for Sterling Wille at their grocery store and poured cement with Jack Murnion.
Basco was caretaker of the fire hall in Jordan for many years, where he lived and you would always be offered a glass of wine, or to play casino and cribbage for a nominal fee. Basco was also known to teach the younger generation how to play these games.
He went back to visit in Iholdy for the first time, 28 years later, just four days before his mother passed away, and then went back to visit regularly until the last time in 2013. Soon after the last trip, Basco went to live in the Garfield County Nursing Home in Jordan, until he passed away June 30, 2018. But, Montana was definitely his heart home.
Memorials in Basco’s honor may be made to the Garfield County Fire Hall. Graveside services will be held at the Pioneer Cemetery on July 20, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Condolences may be sent by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.