2022/07/20 - Ontario, Oregon, AEB
Josephine Martina Echanis Keim, 98 of Ontario, Oregon passed peacefully at home Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Josephine, was born September 19th 1923, to Ygnacio “Jack” and Maria Echanis who emigrated from Spain to the US in the early 1900’s. Both of them where born in Mutriku, Basque Country, father Jose Ygnacio "Jack" Echaniz Yriarte, and mother Maria Josefa Pagoaga Aristondo, "Maria Echanis", as researched by Lisa Corcostegui.
Josephine’s family operated a sheep business in the Steens Mountains and then opened their home for a Basque Boarding house in 1922 where the sheep herders from Spain had a place to live. Josephine helped her mother prepare meals for her family and boarders, gardened, canned fruits and vegetables, and cleaned the 15 room house after school. She also acted as an interpreter for the boarders when making banking decisions and business transactions. Their home became a landmark in Ontario because of its importance for the local history of the Basque people and a gathering place for the boarders and families of the Basques community in the surrounding area. The home hosted the first Basque dance in the boarding house in 1942.
Josephine married Charles (Chick) Keim in 1956. They resided in the Boarding House as she continued to work and care for her family and parents. Together, they raised three children, Tom, Mary Jo, and Tony. She was active in her children’s school activities, field trips, religious education, and would always have fresh baked goodies for everyone who visited their home. She welcomed everyone who walked in the door. She spoiled her four brothers and loved each of her nieces and nephews as if they were her own. She loved watching her children and grandchildren play sports and traveled to attend their sporting events. If she was unable to attend, she would sit by the radio and listened to each play and knew each player on the team. She was an active member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Altar Society and helped to form the Ontario Basque Club in 1947. She was inducted into the Basque Hall of Fame in 2007 which was featured in New York, and she documented her families’ Basque history in 2016 which can be seen at the Boise Basque Museum in Boise, Idaho.
Video for SBSA Hall of Fame (2007). Thanks Lisa Corcostegui
Josephine was preceded in death by her husband, Charles (Chick) Keim, her four brothers, Andres, Carmelo, John and Frank Echanis, her parents Jack and Maria Echanis, her Sisters-in-law Pat, Lucey and Delores Echanis, nephew Mike Echanis, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
She is survived by her son Tom Keim and Jan Pennington, her daughter Mary Jo and husband Brett Flynn, and her son Tony Keim and Kellie Russell. She loved her 13 grand-children; Greg Keim, Jake & Joey Zabala, Toby, Keanna, Kylee, and Kody Keim, Healther and Carra Flynn, Samantha Herrera, Matison & Abigail Youngblood, and Erik Perkins. She adored her eight great-grandchildren; Sage & Jack Keim, Hadley & Ryan Lassandro, Jayce and Ava McClure, and Whitney and Ava Perkins, and her sister-in-law Lourena Echanis and numerous nieces and nephews that were an active part of her life whom she loved dearly.
We will remember Josephine for the unconditional love and acceptance that she had for her family and friends. Thank you Amuma for the coffee at your kitchen table, for sharing all of your stories, and for all of your love that made us feel we were at home. We Love You!
The family would like to thank Dr. Nani Cabrera and the staff of Heart ‘n Home Hospice for the care they gave to Josephine.
Josephine’s celebration of life hill be held Saturday, Sept. 24th. 2022 at 11:00 am in Ontario at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, with a reception following the Mass. Rosary will be held at 10:30 am preceding the Mass.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Ontario Basque Club in Ontario or to St Peter’s School in Ontario in Josephine’s behalf.
Goian Bego - May she Rest in Peace