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Zachary Berhau, former president of Eusko Etxea of New York, dies at the age of 81 in the City


Zachary Berhau pictured in 2002 at the second floor of Eusko Etxea of New York (photo Joseba Etxarri)
Zachary Berhau pictured in 2002 at the second floor of Eusko Etxea of New York (photo Joseba Etxarri)


Born in New York in December, 1933, Zachary Berhau was one of the old timers at Eusko Etxea of New York (EENY). He grew up being an active member of the center and in different times he was elected as its president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, holding the latter position until 2012. He has been also a delegate to NABO, the Federation of American Basque Organizations.

Donostia-San Sebastian. His death occurred on February 21, but has not disclosed until this week through Aitzol Azurtza, also a former president and an active member of EENY. We reproduce here the obituary published in our section "In memory of" as a small final tribute to Zachary Berhau:

Zachary Berhau (1933-2015)

Zachary Berhau, New York native and a very active member of the Eusko Etxea of New York (EENY) passed away on February 21, 2015 in New York City. In the club Zachary served in all of its offices at one time or another, secretary, treasurer until 2012, vice-president and president. He also served as the club’s NABO representative.

His grandfather emigrated from the Basque Country to Uruguay at the end of the 19th century and in 1906 his family moved from Rio de la Plata to New York, where his father grew up and Zachary would be born on December 11, 1933. Zachary was a New Yorker from head to toe…and Basque. He joined the Basque club thanks to his father, who they called “The Basco” a fan of dance, and who supported his family as a churrero in New York. Zachary enjoyed talking about him. Itziar Albisu Kobayashi, Eusko Etxea president from 2005-2012, remembered a time when in memory of his father, “Zachary bought a fryer and brought it to the club to make churros for everyone.”

The club entered the millennium with Zachary as its president. Koitz Foncillas, who succeeded him in 2003, remembers him at every Aberri Eguna, the club’s largest event, “Zachary used to come dressed in white and red, with a berret and his Eusko Etxea of NY polo shirt, the one with the EENY logo with the map of Euskal Herria, the ikurriña and the twin towers. He would sit at a table at the entrance where he would collect admission and dues from members and friends, and then he would go serve at the bar.”

Foncillas told, he remembers him “banging the gavel at meetings when he was president, calling it to order.” “When they elected me president he gave me this wooden gavel (like those used at court). That gesture was very exciting to me, even though, I never used it, I still have it.” “Another of Zachary’s gestures that I remember was when we collected money after September 11th. Half of what we collected was for club members affected by the attacks, and the other half was donated to the neighborhood firefighters. In fact, we held a very nice ceremony, which he organized, on the second floor of the clubhouse that was attended by several firefighters and where he presented them with a check.”

According to several people contacted to write these lines, “Zachary was a person of very strong character, very stubborn, maybe even a little crude but very noble, very Basque after all, like those from before.” Joseba Etxarri, director of, who met Zachary on several occasions, was also a witness to his work and dedication to the Eusko Etxea and his selfless work in favor of the community. “He had the strengths and weaknesses that characterize we Basques. He held his origins and the Basque club with special fondness, and he was one of the club’s historic people,” he added.

Zachary continued to teach at the University almost until the end as well as managing his insurance Company. In recent years, he was suffering from prostate cancer and diabetes, and walked with a cane. He continued to participate in club activities to the extent that he could. A program by ETB on the Eusko Etxea’s Centennial was possibly one of his last media appearances.

We extend our sincerest condolences to his wife and daughters, and his entire family, as well as his friends at the Eusko Etxea of New York. GB.

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