Leonard Mallea, long time resident of Caldwell, died peacefully on June 3, 2020 at the age of 95. He was born January 8, 1925 to Basque immigrant parents Nick Mallea and Dion Ycasuriaga, and was raised along with his two brothers Louis and Angel in the family “cottage” in Silver City. He attended the Silver City school through the sixth grade, at which time the mine closed, Idaho power shut off the town’s power, and the school closed. His mother and dad moved the family to Nampa.
During high school, Len worked part time at a pharmacy in downtown Nampa, sweeping floors, stocking shelves, and doing whatever else there was to do. Upon graduation from Nampa High School, with World War II raging, he registered for military service in the Navy. This, a boy who could not swim, had never before been on a boat, and had seen no more water than the creeks in Owyhee County could flow in the springtime. But when the Navy registrar heard the words: “I worked at the pharmacy”, the Navy immediately assigned him as Pharmacy Mate 3rd Class, aboard the USS Alpine, a troop carrier operating in the Pacific. Len was at sea for the next three years, enduring two Kamikaze raids upon his ship and was twice awarded for bravery in rescuing crew members following these attacks.
Upon discharge, Len attended the University of Idaho Southern Branch (now Idaho State University) on the GI Bill to pursue his formal education in Pharmacy. While at ISU, he befriended another veteran student named Herman McDevitt, who introduced Len to Herman’s little sister Patricia. Well, to say the least, Len and Pat hit it off, and were married in September of 1950. They moved to Caldwell where Len worked for PennyWise drug for many years until opening his own pharmacy within the medical clinic in Caldwell. Len and Pat raised five kids: Dan, Ken, Mike, Rita and Dion.
Len was a lifelong Catholic, faithful and loving husband, and devoted father. He was always proud of his Basque heritage. Til the day he died he possessed an encyclopedic memory of all family Basque relatives and connections, from Jordan Valley though the entire Valley. He was a founding charter member of Caldwell Euskaldunak and every year served in the kitchen at the annual Caldwell Basque Dance. He was a long term member of the St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus and the Caldwell Elks Lodge.
Len managed to acquire many names from his family over the years, but the one that stuck til the end was “Pantxo”. Up into his late 80s, Pantxo and crew would make an annual run up to Silver City to visit his old haunts and remember his life as a child. He recalled every home, building and family he grew up with and always served as an unofficial oral historian on each visit he made up to Silver City. His two favorite spots on this earth were his own back yard in an old chaise lounge and the Sawtooth Lodge up in Grandjean. Len and Pat loved to fish and camp and enjoy the beauty of Idaho.
Upon the sale of his Caldwell pharmacy and retirement from the day to day practice, he continued to assist as a valuable member of the pharmacy team at the Boise Veteran’s hospital, working alongside his registered pharmacist daughter Dion.
Len is survived by his wife Pat, his children Dan, Ken, Mike and Dion, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. His beloved daughter Rita died in 2001 of cancer.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday June 10 at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, Caldwell. A private family burial will immediately follow at Canyon Hill Cemetery. Due to the ongoing COVID restrictions, the family very much regrets that there will not be a get together following the funeral as would and should normally occur in a Basque/Irish family. Please raise a glass on your own to send Pantxo on his way. GERO ARTE PANTXO!
Donations in Len’s name to the International Children’s Surgical Foundation, Dr. Geoff Williams, MD, PO Box 4594, Boise ID 83711-4594 or to St. Clare’s Food Pantry, 3719 Cleveland Blvd, Caldwell ID 83605, would be most appreciated in lieu of flowers.
Funeral services are under the direction of Dakan Funeral Chapel in Caldwell. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.dakanfuneralchapel.com
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