Birthday: November 3, 1926
Age: 94 Years, 94 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Famous as: Former President of Lithuania
Spouse/Ex-: Alma Adamkienė
awards: U.S President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (1985)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon - Iceland (1998)
Recipient of the Order of Liberty - Ukraine (2009)
Who is Valdas Adamkus?
Valdas Adamkus was the President of Lithuania for two terms, from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2004 to 2009. His election to presidency in his first term came as a surprise to many as he had spent much of his life living outside Lithuania, having fled the country during the World War II. However, he had always been interested in Lithuania’s political activities. As a young man Adamkus actively participated in the underground activities against the first Soviet occupation. As part of the resistance movement for Lithuania's independence, he published and circulated the underground newspaper ‘Jaunime, budek!’ (Youth, Be on Guard!). After moving to the United States, he completed his education as a civil engineer and started Working for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA). A man with a strong conscience and moral values, he was active in public and political life of the Lithuanian expatriate community while living in the U.S. and organized protests against Lithuania’s occupation. Over the years he frequently visited Lithuania and started taking up an active interest in the country’s politics. Finally he moved back to his homeland and ran for presidency. He won the elections and became the President of the Republic of Lithuania in 1998. He proved to be a popular President and won a second term in a special election held in 2004.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born into a Roma Catholic family in Kaunas on 3 November 1926. His father was one of the first heads of the Lithuanian Air Force School in the Republic of Lithuania and his mother worked at the Ministry of Communications.
He studied at the Ausra (Dawn) Gymnasium in Kaunas.
As a young man he became involved with the resistance movement for Lithuania's independence; he published and circulated the underground newspaper ‘Jaunime, budek!’ (Youth, Be on Guard!).
He moved with his family to Germany for a short while in 1944 before returning to Lithuania where he entered Homeland Defense Team fighting against the Soviet Army. Howeve,r he along with his family was forced to flee the country during the World War II due to difficult political situation.
He studied at the University of Munich in Germany and later emigrated to the United States in 1949.
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During the 1950s he served as a senior non-commissioned officer with the United States 5th Army Reserve's military intelligence unit. He also continued his education and graduated as a as a civil engineer from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961.
In 1958, he became the Vice-Chairman of the SANTARA-SVIESA (Accord-Light) cultural-political federation, a public organization of the Lithuanian émigrés of liberal orientation, a post he held till 1965. He became the organization’s chairman in 1967.
In spite of not living in Lithuania, he was genuinely concerned about his homeland and her citizens and collaborated with fellow Lithuanian Americans to raise concerns about ongoing deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia by the Soviets and other Soviet activities in occupied Lithuania.
When the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded in 1970, he joined the agency in Cincinnati. Eventually he was made the regional administrator by President Ronald Reagan, and was made responsible for all air, water, hazardous waste, and other pollution control programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
He visited Lithuania in 1972, as a member of the official delegation from the United States attending an environmental conference in Moscow. It was his first visit in almost 30 years. His concern for his motherland kept gnawing at him and over the next several years he made frequent trips to Lithuania.
He retired from the EPA in 1997 after serving the organization for almost three decades. His illustrious career there was duly appreciated and he received a congratulatory letter from President Clinton.
He moved back to Lithuania after his retirement and started getting deeply involved in the country’s politics. He decided to run for presidency in 1998 and this decision was criticized by some as he had been out of the country for a very long period of time. However, the Lithuanian courts ruled in his favor and after he renounced his U.S. citizenship, he was deemed eligible to run for presidency.
He defeated Artūras Paulauskas in the elections and assumed the office of the President of Lithuania in 26 February, 1998. As the president he promoted democracy in the formerly Soviet Eastern European and Asian nations, and served as one of the mediators during Ukraine's political crisis which was eventually resolved after a new election was held.
He proved to be a very efficient leader who genuinely cared about the citizens and became popular among the masses. But he unexpectedly lost the 2003 presidential elections to Rolandas Paksas.
Paksas was impeached and removed from the presidency in April 2004 following a presidential scandal when it emerged that he had granted citizenship to a major campaign donor.
He won the presidential elections again in 2004 and was re-elected to the post on 12 July 2004. He once again displayed his stellar leadership skills during his second term.
He stepped down in 2009 after having served the maximum of two presidential terms permitted by the Constitution of Lithuania.
Awards & Achievements
He was presented with the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award—the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civil servant—by U.S. President Reagan in 1985.
He received a Distinguished Career Award from EPA Administrator Carol Browner upon his retirement from the agency.
In 2005, he received the Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Alma Nutautaitė in 1951. After he became the President, his wife became involved in charitable activities especially Lithuanian social programs focusing on the welfare of children. In 1999 she opened a foundation, the Alma Adamkienė Charity and Support Fund.
This former President of Lithuania is fluent in five languages — Lithuanian, Polish, English, Russian, and German.