1937 – 2013
Edward "Eddie" Basha Jr.
Edward Najeeb Basha Jr. was born in August 1937 in Chandler. He was the great-grandson of Lebanese immigrants who arrived in Arizona in 1910. His grandfather opened a general store in Sonora near the mining town of Ray and later built a second store in Chandler where he moved his family in 1919. The family’s first grocery, what would become the Bashas' supermarket chain, opened in 1932. Eddie Basha was a humanitarian, donating millions to charitable causes and helped countless others quietly and anonymously. Basha spent decades working to improve schools in Arizona and make educational opportunities available to more students. An advocate for public education, he was a fierce competitor in the political arena. A longtime member of both local and state education boards, Basha tested his popularity in 1994 with a run for governor. From 1968 to 1980, he served as a member and three-time president of the Chandler Unified School District. In 1984, he was appointed to the State Board of Education by Gov. Bruce Babbitt. In 1990, Mofford appointed Basha to the Arizona Board of Regents. Education is a passion that Basha shared with his second wife, Nadine Mathis Basha. She is a former public-school teacher and former member of the State Board of Education and founder of First Things First, an organization that provides educational and childhood-development opportunities for children under the age of 5.