Alma Adamkienė Passes Away

Alma Adamkienė, former first lady and wife of President Valdas Adamkus, passed away at the age of 96 on May 21, 2023. Her husband Valdas Adamkus served as Lithuania’s second post-independence president from 1998-2003 and 2004-2009. Adamkienė had been struggling with health problems for some time, having had a stroke in 2019, and again in April of this year.

“Alma Adamkiene was a wonderful First Lady of Lithuania, who not only represented Lithuania well, forged warm personal relations with the partners of foreign leaders, but also was a real support for President Valdas Adamkus, accompanying him on his trips to Lithuania and his visits abroad, and staying with him both at the peaks of his life and at difficult moments,” President Gitanas Nausėda said in a statement on May 21.

“We say goodbye to Alma Adamkienė, a bright personality who left a special mark on the life of Lithuania. In our memory, Alma Adamkienė will always remain alongside President Valdas Adamkus, a wife and companion, the First Lady of Lithuania, who showed the highest personal culture with her attitude, and who devoted a lot of energy to charitable activities,” former president Dalia Grybauskaitė said in her message of condolence.

“Alongside the sadness of the painful loss that we feel today, the bright memory of Alma Adamkienė is with us and will always be with us. Her respect for others, her kindness, her consideration for the weak are what earned her the admiration and love of so many people,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė noted.

Adamkienė was born on February 10, 1927, in Šiauliai, to the family of Stasys Nutautas, a merchant, and Ona Soblytė-Nutautienė. When the Soviet army invaded Lithuania in 1944, Adamkienė, then Nutautaitė, fled to Germany with her family. There, she graduated from high school in Eichstatt and later studied at the Faculty of Philology of the University of Erlangen.

Five years after arriving in Germany, the whole family moved to the United States. There, Adamkienė worked as a technician in a steel factory and later in an insurance company. In 1951, she married Valdas Adamkus. The couple did not have any children.

From 1962 onwards, she managed the Tabor Farm summer resort in Michigan for twenty-five years. The site became a gathering place for the US Lithuanian community. The young Adamkus family bought the resort from Juozas Bačiūnas, an activist of the Lithuanian-American community. For years, it hosted the congresses of the liberal Lithuanian diaspora organization Santara-Šviesa.

In the autumn of 1997, when the presidential election campaign was still underway, she said that no matter what the outcome of the election, she would be involved in charity work in Lithuania.

After her husband Adamkus won the election in 1998, Adamkienė continued her work and in 1999 the Adamkienė Charity and Support Foundation was established to help children. The foundation later changed its name to Raising the Future. In addition to children, the foundation focused on helping the elderly, especially those without family. “What they need is not material help, but moral help – they should be visited, they should be given a small gift or just greeted, and they will know that they have not been forgotten,” Adamkienė said.

Hundreds of people gathered at Petrašiūnai Cemetery in Kaunas where Alma Adamkienė was laid to rest on May 23. Mourners followed the funeral procession, which included Adamkus, President Gitanas Nausėda, and his wife Diana Nausėdienė, to the gravesite, where the burial ceremony began at 4 pm. Before the ceremony, many people and politicians paid their last respects to Alma Adamkienė at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius.