Old website version during the first term of office of President Valdas Adamkus (1998 02 26-2003 02 25)

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Valdas Adamkus Biography

Photo by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė

Valdas Adamkus was born into a family of civil servants 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 the then newly re-established Republic of Lithuania. Adamkus' mother worked at the Ministry of Communications for many years.

Valdas Adamkus studied at the Ausra (Dawn) Gymnasium in Kaunas. In the years of World War II, he joined the 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 Homeland Defense 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. While working at the World YMCA organization, he was responsible for the displaced persons and acted as Secretary General and Chairman of the Chief Physical Training and Sports Committee. Adamkus won two gold and silver medals in track-and-field events at the Olympic Games of the Enslaved Nations in 1948.

Photo by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė

Assisted by the family of former Lithuanian President Kazys Grinius, Valdas Adamkus together with his parents, brother and sister emigrated to the United States in 1949. Upon arrival, he immediately found a blue-collar job with a manufacturer of spare car parts in Chicago and later worked as a draftsman in an engineering firm. In 1960, Adamkus graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology as a civil engineer. In 1951, Valdas Adamkus established an academic sports club of Lithuanian Americans, LITUANICA. Between 1957 and 1958, he chaired the Board of the Santara (Accord) Center of Lithuanian students in the United States. In 1958 through 1965, Adamkus was Vice-Chairman of the SANTARA-SVIESA (Accord-Light) cultural-political federation, a public organization of the Lithuanian émigrés 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 of the American-Lithuanian Council (ALC). He also was Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the World Lithuanian Games in 1983.

Working for 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 was an active member of the United States Republican Party. Since 1972, he has visited Lithuania once or several times a year, bringing the literature published by SANTARA-SVIESA - Metmenys (Outlines), Akiraciai (Horizons) and others. Encouraging and supporting the construction of water treatment facilities and development of environmental monitoring, 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 coordinator of the US aid to the Baltic States in the field of environmental protection, Adamkus organized study visits for the representatives of Lithuania's academic institutions and developed many-sided co-operation with Vilnius University, helping it acquire the latest academic literature on environmental issues. Adamkus raised and implemented the idea of publishing Lithuanian History by Adolfas Sapoka in 300,000 copies and the two-volume edition of Modern History by Pranas Cepenas in Lithuania.

Valdas Adamkus was granted the title of Vilnius University Honorary Doctor in 1989. The American universities of Indiana and Illinois named Adamkus their Honorary Doctor as well for his contribution to the cleaning of the Great Lakes and for other environmental projects. In 1988, Adamkus was granted an international environmental award for outstanding achievements on the international arena. Adamkus has himself established annual award granted to Lithuania's noted environmental specialists and scholars.

Photo by Džoja Gunda Barysaitė
Adamkus has also been granted the US 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 he resigned as the EPA's Administrator. In 1993, Valdas Adamkus headed the presidential campaign of candidate Stasys Lozoraitis in Lithuania. He actively participated in the campaign of the 1996 Lithuanian general elections, uniting a bloc of moderate right-wing forces. In 1997, Adamkus was nominated by the Lithuanian Center Union for the Siauliai City Council.

Valdas Adamkus 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.

Maintained by the Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania. Please specify source when quoting.