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Valdas Adamkus, the President of the Republic of Lithuania

Biography


Valdas Adamkus was born in Kaunas on 3 November 1926. His father served as a volunteer during the Independence War in Lithuania and was among the first heads of the Lithuanian Air Force School in then newly re-established Republic of Lithuania. Adamkus’ mother worked at the Ministry of Communications for many years.

Valdas Adamkus studied in the Ausra (Dawn) Gymnasium in Kaunas. During World War II, he joined resistance movement for Lithuania’s independence, published and circulated the underground newspaper Jaunime, budek! (Youth, Be on Guard!).

After a short stay in Germany to where he retreated with his parents in July 1944, Valdas Adamkus returned to Lithuania in the autumn of the same year and entered the Homeland Defence Team fighting against the Soviet army. He took part in the battle of Seda, western Lithuania, but had to leave Lithuania again soon because of unfavourable circumstances. Upon graduation from the Lithuanian Gymnasium in Germany, Adamkus entered the Faculty of Natural Science at the Munich University.


In 1949 Valdas Adamkus together with his parents, brother and sister emigrated to the United States. Upon arrival, he immediately found job at the Chicago car plant as a worker and later as a draftsman in an engineering firm. In 1960, Adamkus graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology as a civil engineer.

In 1958 through 1965, Adamkus was Vice-Chairman of the SANTARA-SVIESA (Accord-Light) cultural-political federation, a public organization of the Lithuanian emigres of liberal orientation, to take up its chairmanship in 1967. Valdas Adamkus was an active organizer of protest actions against Lithuania’s occupation and the initiator of numerous petitions. In 1961 through 1964, Adamkus was a member of the Board of the American-Lithuanian community (LC), Vice-Chairman of the Centre Board, member and then Chairman of the American-Lithuanian Council (ALC). He also chaired the Organizing Committee of the World Lithuanian Games in 1983.

Working at the U. S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 70’s, Adamkus first headed the environment research center and later was appointed Deputy Administrator at the U. S. EPA Region 5 (Great Lakes Region). He was later promoted to Administrator at the same institution and held that office until June 1997.

Adamkus assisted the environmental institutions of the Baltic States in acquiring academic literature, equipment and software needed for their projects. In the capacity of the co-ordinator of the US aid to the Baltic States in the field of environmental protection, he promoted all-round co-operation with Vilnius University and Lithuania’s academic institutions.

Valdas Adamkus is Honorary Doctor of Vilnius University (Lithuania), Indiana St. Joseph College and Northwestern University (United states). Adamkus has also been granted the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency gold medal for the achievements in service and the award of the U. S. President for outstanding service. President Bill Clinton sent a thank you letter to Adamkus when in 1997 he resigned as the EPA’s Administrator.

In 1993, Valdas Adamkus headed the presidential campaign of candidate Stasys Lozoraitis in Lithuania.

Valdas Admakus was elected President of the Republic of Lithuania on 4 January 1998. On 26 February 1998, Valdas Adamkus was inaugurated President of the Republic of Lithuania.

Valdas Adamkus married his wife Alma in 1951.


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