Francisco “Paco” Iturriria
January 28, 1934 – January 1, 2021
Francisco “Paco” Iturriria, 86, entered eternal life on January 1, 2021 surrounded by his loving family. Paco was born on January 28, 1934 in Lekaroz, Navarra, Spain to Francisca Goñi and Bautista Iturriria. He was the seventh child born into a family of fourteen siblings. After attending school at the Colegio de Lekaroz, he continued his education and enrolled in the Catholic Seminary in Pamplona, Spain. It was there that he realized his love for the land, animals, and his strong faith in God.
In 1952, along with his brother Miguel, Paco left his homeland to fulfill his dream in the land of opportunity and arrived in Bakersfield, California at the age of 18 to work as a sheepherder for M & R Sheep Company. They joined their oldest brother Andres in Bakersfield, and together with brothers Fernando and Antero, they began the Iturriria legacy here. For six years, Paco herded and tended to sheep throughout California. In 1958, Paco, Andres, and Miguel began I & M Sheep Company with Joe Mendiburu. The partnership flourished for 25 years and in the early 1980’s, the three brothers began operating the business on their own. From there, the operation diversified to include cattle and farming and it continues today. He developed many friendships in his career, which he treasured throughout his lifetime.
Paco was a highly respected leader in the sheep industry. He served as President of the Kern County Wool Growers Association for 25 years, President of the California Wool Growers Association, and on numerous committees for the American Sheep Industry. He was honored for his years of service and dedication to the industry by the California Wool Growers Association in 1995 as “Sheepman of the Year” and in 2020 as “Master Shepherd”.
Paco’s strong work ethic and dedication to his profession were surpassed only by his passion and love for his family. During one of his trips to visit his family in Lekaroz, he met the love of his life, Maria Luisa Barberena Iturralde, from the neighboring town of Irurita. They were married on October 23, 1971, and then settled in Bakersfield where they raised their children. Together, they enjoyed a beautiful life and worked hard to reach their dreams of providing educations for their children and building their foundation of faith. Paco always looked forward to his trips to Bridgeport, California with his family to visit the sheep operation during the summer, enjoy the beauty of the Eastern Sierra’s, and share in his love of the outdoors and fishing.
While Paco was a proud American citizen, his love for his Basque culture remained strong. He was an honorary lifetime member of the Kern County Basque Club and took great pride in instilling the love of culture, faith, and family in his children. He delighted in returning to the Pyrenees Mountains regularly to visit his family and friends.
Paco is preceded in death by his parents, brothers and sisters Andres (Maria Esther), Maritxu, Conchita, Manuel, Antero, and parent and brother-in-laws Adolfo (Julia), Bautista, José María, Miguel Angel, and José Joaquín.
Paco is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years Maria Luisa, his children Frankie (Renée), Louis, and Julia (Raymond) Goyeneche. He was a proud Aitetxi to his grandsons Adrian, Marcos, Remy, and Rafael. They were the light of his life and he will now be their guardian angel in heaven. Paco is also survived by his brothers and sisters Gloria, Bautista, Miguel (Yvonne), Fernando (Yvonne), Pazita, Txarito (Norberto), Luis Mary (Inés), Martín José (Isabel), his brother and sister-in-laws Lolo, Lourdes, Pili (Juan Miguel), Cristina, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Due to social gathering restrictions and for the safety of family and friends, services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kern County Basque Club, P.O. Box 416, Bakersfield, CA 93302. Special thanks to Farr Medical Group, AIS Cancer Center, and Hoffmann Hospice for their compassionate care.
Aita, ez zaitugu ahaztuko. Beti egoin zara gurekin. Betiko maite zaitugu.
Doughty Calhoun O'Meara Funeral Directors
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