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Nature 14


Sylvia J. Sillonis

July 6, 1926 ~ January 29, 2019 (age 92)

The youngest of four children, Sylvia was born on July 6, 1926, in Barber, Idaho, to Eladia Zatica from Ispaster, Bizkaia, and Venancio “Ben” Goicoechea, from Guizaburuaga, Bizkaia. Ben was employed at the mill at Barber and later the family moved to Boise. Sylvia was raised in Boise with her older brothers Joe and Carl and sister Rosie. The Goicoechea residence was located in the downtown Boise Basque community, and they all participated in many celebrations and dances. The family belonged to St. John’s Parish; and Sylvia received the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation at the Cathedral. She graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy in 1944. Sylvia began her first job with Idaho Compensation, her employment there lasting ten years. In the spring of 1949, Sylvia and her family became Charter Members of the newly formed Boise Euzkaldunak Basque organization. Among the original 516 charter members, Sylvia was one of the last 13 remaining members. Eladia, Rosie, and Sylvia were also life-long members of La Organizacion Independiente Social, a club for Basque women. Sylvia was among many Basque friends who learned to perform some traditional Basque dances. When the “Song of the Basque” was performed for Boise Music Week in May of 1949, Sylvia was one of the 16 red silk skirted ladies who danced the Jota and Porrusalda—one of the highlights of the production. During this time, Sylvia met Robert “Bob” Sillonis from Mountain Home, a brother of one of Sylvia’s good friends Lydia Sillonis Jausoro. Sylvia and Bob were married at St. John’s Cathedral on December 12, 1953. Their first child Cristie Marie was born in Boise. Two sons, Alfonso and Robert Louis, completed the family. Besides living in Boise and Mountain Home, the family lived in several places when Bob joined the Army Corps of Engineers. While Bob worked at projects at various dams, they lived in Arlington, OR; Clinton, MO; Umatilla, OR; and finally Pomeroy, WA. It was here that the Sillonis family established roots. Cristie, Al and Rob went to school there and graduated from Pomeroy High. Sylvia worked for the Garfield County District Courts but also helped with Blue Birds and Cub Scouts. They were members of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, and Sylvia served on the Parish Council for several years. Bob and Sylvia had taken up golf, and Sylvia served as President and as Vice President of the Pomeroy Ladies Golf Association. They loved the community, and Sylvia stayed in Pomeroy after Bob’s death in 1979. A Mass for Sylvia was held on Monday, February 4, in Pomeroy. After the Mass at St. John’s on Wednesday morning, Sylvia will be buried with her husband Bob at Morris Hill Cemetery.
Sylvia is survived by: daughter Cristie and son-in law Doug Gasseling of Cheyenne, WY; son Al Sillonis of Spokane, WA; son Rob and daughter-in-law Kim Sillonis of Colfax, WA; grandchildren Jeremy Shahan and Jake (Keisha) Shahan; great grandchildren Kennedy, Harper, Declan and Lincoln Shahan; and sisters-in-law Bonnie Goicoechea and Ellen Lou Goicoechea. Sylvia is also survived by many Goicoechea, Sillonis and Jausoro nieces and nephews. Sylvia was preceded in death by: husband Robert Sillonis—January 1, 1979; sister Rosie and her husband Phil Stanton, brothers Joe and Carl Goicoechea; brothers-in-law Julio, John (Gloria), Richard and Alfonso Sillonis; sister-in-law Lydia Sillonis and her husband Louis Jausoro; and niece Margie and nephews Benjie and Kenny Goicoechea.
Sylvia was a wonderful, cheerful person with a great wit and beautiful smile and contagious laugh. Her family mentioned that she liked to give out orders, but it was always with love. She always has had loyal friends and neighbors, and she appreciated their many kindnesses and their prayers for her well being. As a woman of faith and prayer herself, she said the rosary every morning. She dearly loved her family and extended family. She enjoyed watching her teams: Notre Dame, WSU Cougars, Seahawk football; Mariner baseball; and Gonzaga basketball. She had some fun with the stock market. She valued phone conversations with lifelong friends and many of her nieces and nephews. She loved well and was well loved. Donations in Sylvia’s memory would be graciously accepted by the Euzkaldunak, Inc. (the Basque Foundation—601 Grove Street, Boise, 83702), and the Basque Museum & Cultural Center (611 Grove Street, Boise 83702). We will miss her. Goian Bego!

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