I only met him a few times, in Seattle, in Boise, in Homedale, but he made a lasting impression. Always with a smile and with his txistu at hand, Aita Martxel Tillous always added something special to any Basque gathering, even if it was a bunch of northwesterners gathered in a hay barn, doing their best to recreate something of the Basque Country in the countryside outside of Seattle. All who met him always remembered him.
Aita Tillous passed away, sometime in the last day or so. He had been spending his last days in his home in France, as his illness slowly claimed him, as he described in this letter to the Basque community in the US.
He will be sorely missed. His absence will be all too conspicuous at the next gathering of Basques.
Update: NABO has posted an eulogy of sorts for Aita Tillous. Euskalkultura.com has a write-up in Euskara, written by Joseba Etxarri, who was often seen at Basque festivals alongside Aita Tillous. I remember Joseba playing, on the accordian I believe, next to Aita Tillous on the txistu at our annual Basque picnic in Seattle one year.