basque heritage worldwide

In memory of

Francisco "Frank" Sabala

Francisco "Frank" Sabala
Francisco "Frank" Sabala (February 28, 1937 - March 12, 2023)

03/12/2023 - Meridian, Idaho, USA

Francisco "Frank" Sabala was born February 28, 1937, at home on his family's dairy farm in Gooding, Idaho, the second of six children, to Augustin (who immigrated from the Basque Country) and Claudia Sabala. He passed away on March 12, 2023 surrounded by his wife and four children. He was 86 years old.

Upon first meeting Frank, you immediately understood his deep devotion to his family, his faith, his Basque heritage and his country. As you got to know him more, you discovered a genuine, gentle, and fair man with great strength of character and the most even disposition. Everyone who really knew him, knew his most cherished and proud moments were those spent with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

Growing up on the farm, Frank had an affinity and appreciation for agriculture. It just made sense then, that he was a member and officer of the Gooding High School FFA chapter. During his senior year, he had the honor of being selected to represent Gooding at the National FFA Convention in Kansas. Another passion of Frank's during high school was track and field in which he was state ranked.

After graduation, Frank's commitment to his country was his next priority. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1956. After 15 months of intensive communications training with Western Union while stationed at Robins AFB in Georgia, he was stationed in Japan for the remainder of his four-year commitment before being honorably discharged.
Frank would always point up to the sky, sure that, as he said, the "big guy up there" was guiding him when he needed it and that things would work out; and did they ever! Western Union created a new position for him based out of Mountain Home, ID. It was there at the realty office that he met Ricki Aguirre, the office secretary. He set up another meeting to talk more about the house, but it was really just a ploy to see Ricki again! He knew from the beginning that Ricki was the love of his life, and on October 26, 1963, he and Ricki were married at Our Lady of Good Council Catholic Church. It was also there where his and Ricki's four children were born and raised until 1975.
As everyone knows, Frank had a knack for figuring anything out. When he was told that the 40-acre farm they were considering buying in Meridian, ID was 'un-farmable', and the 1910 house needed a lot of attention, he was sold. As always, Frank figured it out. He quickly put his irrigation plan into action and was up and farming, hay and cattle, a 'hobby' he'd enjoy for the next 40 years. He planned and remodeled the house and built an addition. In 1989, after 20 years at Western Union, Frank went to work as the Electronics Foreman for the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, retiring after 10 years in 1999.

Even though you'd frequently hear Frank say "with one kid I had help, with two kids I had half the help, and with three or four kids I had no help", his eyes always lit up talking about times spent working alongside his children, whether they were driving tractor, bucking bales, irrigating, tending to cattle, or gardening. He and Ricki were their children's biggest supporters, cheering them on at every game where Cherri was cheerleading or Tony, Chris, or Greg were playing basketball or football. He also loved outings with his grandchildren to watch trains come through Kuna and drinking hot cocoa.

In 1997, he and Ricki designed and had a new house built at the top of the property that they've called home ever since. He was especially proud that the design won so many 1st place awards on the Parade of Homes that year. After his retirement, he continued farming, finding and herding a few steer escapees over the years, and perfecting his vegetable garden with tomatoes and corn so good, no one could get enough.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Ricki, and his four children and their families: Cherri (Joe O'Neil) Sabala and her children Parker and Shelby Boles of Meridian, ID; Tony (Elizabeth Roberts) Sabala of San Jose, CA; Chris (Heather) Sabala of Boise, ID; Greg (Dona Jo) Sabala and their children Brennen and Donavon of Meridian, ID. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Dean Sabala, and granddaughter, Brienna Boles.

His kindness, smile, words of wisdom, and devotion to family will be tremendously missed and always remembered.

A Rosary will be held at 10:30 A.M., with the Funeral Mass beginning at 11:30 A.M., followed by a gathering and light lunch, on Monday, March 20, 2023 at Holy Apostles Catholic Church, 6300 N Meridian Rd, Meridian, ID 83642. The graveside service will be held at 3:00 P.M. at Meridian Cemetery, 895 E Franklin Rd, Meridian, ID 83642. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or a charity of your choice.

(published by Idaho Statesman, on Mar. 17, 2023)

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