Ariz. businessman and philanthropist Eddie Basha dies at 75

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Arizona businessman and philanthropist Eddie Basha has died at the age of 75.

Sources close to the family said Basha was taken to a hospital last week with congestive heart failure but was able to go home. He died Tuesday. The cause of death has not been released.

His family founded Bashas' in 1910. At that time, it was a mercantile store. In 1956, the first Bashas' grocery store opened on Seventh Avenue and Osborn Road in Phoenix.

Basha later took over the family business and grew the line of grocery stores to more than 150 locations with four well-known brands: AJ's Fine Foods, Food City, Sportsman's Fine Wines and Bashas' grocery stores.

But Basha was much more than a savvy businessman. He really loved Arizona.

Basha ran for governor against Republican incumbent Fife Symington in 1994. He lost and decided not to run again. Instead, he focused on his wife, Nadine, and six sons.
He devoted countless hours to charities in Arizona and his advocacy for children and education is legendary.

In a tweet, U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema said, "So sad that Eddie Basha has passed. A good American and a proud Arizonan. He will be missed. Sending love to his family."

Statement from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton:

"Eddie Basha was a giant in our state's history. Not only as a business leader but as a passionate advocate for education. He served selflessly on the Chandler Unified School District Board, Arizona Board of Education and the Arizona Board of Regents. It is because of Eddie and Nadine we have First Things First, giving thousand of Arizona children a chance for early childhood education. He will be missed, but never forgotten."

Statement from Gov. Jan Brewer:

"It was with sadness that I learned this afternoon of the passing of Eddie Basha. I had known and worked with him throughout my 30 years in public service. Regardless of the issue – and we did not always come down on the same side – I invariably found him to be genuine in his beliefs and a gentleman in his actions.

"Eddie was Arizona through and through. Born of a pioneer Arizona family, Eddie grew to become one of our state’s giants in business, politics and community service. He loved Arizona, and it showed in his decades of devoted work on behalf of Arizona schools and students.

"Eddie Basha showed all that could – and still can – be accomplished in Arizona with hard work, dedication to community and love of family. That may be his most lasting legacy, and it’s one for which his family can be proud."

U.S. Senator John McCain released the following statement:

"I was saddened to learn of the passing yesterday of a true Arizona icon, Eddie Basha. Eddie's remarkable contributions to Arizona's business and civic life established him as one of the finest citizens that our state has produced. At the age of 31, Eddie took over his family's business and over the course of 40 years, he built it into an Arizona institution. But it was his compassion and generosity that distinguished Eddie, as he raised millions for charitable causes and took a leading role in advocating state education initiatives. In politics, Eddie and I didn't always agree, but I always knew that he was in it for exactly right reasons, and he always had my deepest respect. Cindy and I send our condolences to the entire Basha family."


Basha High School Namesake Video