Joe Edward Laragan, one of America's Greatest Generation, died Feb. 17, 2012, at St. Luke's hospital in Twin Falls. He was born May 22, 1913, in a sheep wagon nestled in the Smoky Mountains to Marcelino and Maria Aspitarte Laragan. He attended school in Hagerman and graduated from Hagerman High School in 1931. He moved to Seattle, Wash., and obtained a degree in accounting at Success Business University in 1935. He was employed by Greyhound Lines during 1935-1941 as an accountant and auditor.
Joe was proud of his military service and was a World War II veteran. After attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., he served overseas duty from 1943-1946 in the Asiatic Pacific, North Africa, Sicilian-Italian and European theaters. For his service, he was awarded seven medals, including the French Croix de Guerre and five campaign bronze stars. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Joe married Florentina Teresa Sabala of Twin Falls on Aug. 10, 1946. Together they owned and operated a wholesale and retail gas and oil business for 32 years in Blaine and Custer counties while residing in Ketchum, Idaho. Joe was active on the Ketchum City Council, and because of this group of volunteers, all the dirt roads in Ketchum were paved. He also served the community in many other local organizations. He was instrumental in building the Lady of Our Snows Catholic Church on Sun Valley Road and also in organizing the Ketchum Basque Festival for many years. He was a lifelong member of the American Legion. While raising their three children, he and Flora never missed the opportunity to attend their children's sporting events.
Joe retired in 1975 and spent many hours fly fishing on the Big Wood River and hunting in the surrounding area. He and Flora moved to Twin Falls and enjoyed traveling to Europe and golfing at the best golf courses in North Carolina, Arizona, California and Spain. Joe and Flora were married for 62 years. Both were parishioners of St. Edward's Catholic Church.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, one brother and two sisters, one grandchild and one great-grandchild.
He is survived by his sister, Carmen Wallace of New York; sisters-in-law, Bert Laragan of Boise and Nettie Nance of North Carolina; brother-in-law Manuel Sabala of Boise; and children, Kathy (Durg) Perron, Kim Laragan-Uranga of Hailey and Joe K. Laragan of Boise. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren, Nikki (Greg) Maynard of Richfield, Ryan (Sahily) Perron of Highland, Utah, Josh (Sheena) Perron of Hailey, Jake (Kris) Perron and Joel Perron of Maui, Hawaii, Sebi Uranga of Ketchum and Solee Uranga of Boise, and Chelsea (Mike) Byron of Boise.
Twelve great-grandchildren will miss their "Aitxitxa": Lindsay, Gregory and Joshua Maynard; Ryan, Riley, Sahily and Yanella Perron; Kameron, Taelyn and Brooklyn Perron; and Tyson and Maria Byron. Joe is also survived by many nieces and nephews who were very important to him.
Kathy, Kim and Joey wish to express their appreciation to all the many special people who knew and loved their dad and who have offered support in their time of sorrow. The management and staff of Wynwood have been great in their care of Joe while he lived there and while he was in the hospital. They also want to express appreciation to the wonderful medical staff at St. Luke's who made his passing so much easier to bear by their kindness shown. Drs. Misiak, Desmond and Fortuin will always be heroes to Kathy, Kim and Joey for their compassionate and loving care.
Rosary for Joe will be held at Reynolds Funeral Home in Twin Falls at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23. Mass of the Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, at St. Edward's Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Edward's Catholic Church or to the charity of your choice.