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Honorary citizens

Rokas Stepulaitis

 Honorary citizen of Šakiai, painter (born in 1916 Leonpolė village). In his youth he studied in Sintautai school, later – Šakiai „Žiburys“gymnasium (rašyčiau high school vietoj gymnasium). In 1936, he joined Kaunas War school and after graduating as a military officer, he then became a reserve soldier. In 1938 started studying in Kaunas, Vytautas Magnus University, although he did not finish studies. After it, he worked in customs in Vievis and later, during the Germany occupation period he worked in trade department. In 1944, he went to the West and in 1948 fully settled in a city called Barrie, Canada. There he did variety of jobs - mostly in constructions, but also was making wooden sculptures, painted paintings and carved bas-relief, and etc. Nearly all of his works, he donated to Zanavykai land museum, even funded the museum to make a place for his art works. R. Stepulaitis was granted Zanavykai national museum honorary member name and in 1996 – Šakiai honorary Citizen Name.


Juozas Domeika

(Born in 1917, Plyniai village - Died in October 17, 2006, Nottingham. In 2009 reburied in Lukšiai cemetery). Šakiai honorary citizen.  Graduated Lukšiai school. In 1938 was called to perform compulsory military service in Lithuania‘s military. After finishing military service in 1944, he worked as an officer in Lithuania’s police. In July, 1944 with the whole Sintautai police station withdrew to the western countries. In 1947, he went to England, there he lived with his family in Nottingham. There, he started doing public activities, particularly in Lithuania’s imprisonment field. After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, he was an active supporter. A lot of his thoughts were published in articles and various Lithuanian newspapers. To contribute to his homeland’s history preservation, he donated more than 20.000 USD.  A large number of his personal funds went supporting disabled people of Lukšiai, also he took part in Šakiai deanery museum maintenance. In 1994 Juozas Domeika was granted Zanavykai national museum honorary member name, and in 1999 Šakiai honorary Citizen name. There is a foundation of Juozas Domeika, in which two emigrants were involved too– Juozas Kriaučiūnas and Kazimieras Januta.



Bernardas Aleknavičius

(Born in August 21, 1930, Lekėčiai). Lithuanian photographer, photojournalist, local ethnographer. Worked in post office as a Lekėčiai social insurance inspector. In 1956 graduated Kaunas pedagogy school, was a teacher in Kačerginė. Later, he was a newspaper correspondent in Kaunas(1956 – 1960). From 1963 till 1993 was ELTA photo reporter for Klaipėda city and Žemaitija region. Now, he continues to publish an illustrated Šakiai national encyclopedia “Novužės krašto vaikai”. In addition, he is a member of journalists and photo artists union. Besides that, he is national artists and Vydūnas association honorary member. In 1989 he was an initiator of Lithuanian’s community “Mažoji Lietuva”. In 1990 and 1997 he was awarded with Vincas Kudirka prize and Ieva Simonaitytė prize. Two years later he was awarded with Šakiai honorary citizen name for taking part in making Zanavykai land famous: for his history researches, articles and tireless work.


Albinas Vaičiūnas

(Born in July 15, 1933, Gegužiniai village, Šakiai district). A well-known cultural historian, collaborator in press, social activist, local ethnographer not only in Šakiai district, but also in the whole country. Albinas Vaičiūnas, in 1940, started attending Tvirbūtai primary school, then joined  Kriūkai progymnasium, during that time attended literary group in school which was led by Kazys Grinius, who later became a famous scientist. In 1950 with a group of friends established a secret organization. In Vyčiai union newspaper “Laisvės keliu” Albinas published first articles about patriotism. In 1951 he and his friends were arrested for their secret activities in their organization and they were investigated in NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) prison, Kaunas. The same year Albinas was sentenced for 25 year and sent to Vorkuta camp. After Stalin’s death, in 1961 came back to Lithuania, finished and graduated Trade technical college. He worked in Republic tourism council, actively wrote articles for “Kultūros barai” and “Mūsų gamta”. Albinas wrote few books about tourism, too. In 1964 became Vilnius central library deputy director. If not A. Vaičiūnas work, Vilnius libraries would not have become so beautiful and convenient in the whole Soviet Union. To Lithuania’s radio station, every week he prepared latest information about newly published books. Also he wrote about famous people of Šakiai district for foreign press ( In Poland – “Aušra”, Germany – “Krivulė”, Canada – “Nepriklausoma Lietuva”). After working in books industry for 30 years, he became director of Beatričė Grincevičiūtė’s museum. In 1989, locals chose him to be Vilnius Zanavykai community chairman, and in 1993 – chairman of P. Vaičaitis’s association. For social and cultural activity A. Vaičiūnas became Šakiai district man of the year, and in 1999 he was awarded by Šakiai Honorary citizen name. Nonetheless, A. Vaičiūnas was awarded by Lithuania’s President with a Grand Duchy of Lithuania Gediminas’s order medal.



Gerhard J. Carl

Public enterprise “Solidarity” founder, several districts Honorary citizen, honored with a lot of awards German citizen. Along with his public enterprise, for 20 years he is fighting against poverty in Lithuania. In these 20 years of work he helped 77 large families that lived in poverty, from which there were 484 children. Over 3 million litas was given to Support Projects. Main awards: Lithuania’s grand duchy Gediminas order of knight cross, Lithuania’s Parliament gratitude medal, Honorary citizen name of Vilkaviškis, Šakiai, Kazlų Rūda, Kalvarija, Marijampolė city and Marijampolė county. Additionaly he was awarded by popular television shows “Bėdų turgus”, “Žaliasis obuolys”, and people chose him to be the “Man of 2006”. These awards are also important for those large families that were in poverty, for “Solidarity” public enterprise workers and for all Lithuania’s politicians, business and cultural field individuals that helped and supported this foundation. For ten years Gerhard J. Carl supported large families in poverty and helped to increase the living conditions, that children in these families could live a better life. Founder of public enterpirse “Solidarity” in 2004 spring was awarded with a Šakiai Honorary citizen name.


Guenter F. Toepfer

In 2007, awarded by Šakiai district with a Honorary citizen name for unselfish activity and support for Kudirkos Naumiestis, Sintautai village, Lukšiai and Gelgaudiškis preschools. Gunter F. Toepfer who lives in Berlin, Germany, for four years organizes 38 kilometers marathon “Knygnešių kelias”, near Lietuva – Rytprūsija border; this event is dedicated to individual and school runners.



Elena Ruzgienė

Born in 1921, Šakiai district, Girškabūdis, member of a Lithuania’s national artists union, Šakiai district Honorary citizen, national artist, in 2010, winner of “Auksinis vainikas” for her paintings. Although, she has not graduated in art studies, but since 1988 keeps attending district and republic national art galleries, exhibitions. E. Ruzgienė is awarded with a lot of official acknowledgments and republic awards.  During 20 years in art field, she painted over 1000 paintings, which reflected her childhood memories. Old traditional houses, traditional flower-gardens, old village people and other ethnographic elements are seen in E. Ruzgienė art works. Most of her works were painted in a small workshop in second floor of her house; from a small window a beautiful image of the city is seen. A. Ruzgienė organizes personal exhibitions and takes part in national art workshops. In 1998 and 2002 Elena was granted national artist of the year name and awarded with a “Aitvaras” award. In 2009, in Marijampolė, a republic tour “Aukso vainikas” was lead, where Elena Ruzgienė was nominated for being the best painter in Marijampolė county.

 Making famous Šakiai city not only in the region but also in Marijampolė county and in other palaces, Elena Ruzgienė was awarded Šakiai district honorary citizen name. Her art works were exhibited in various art exhibitions and some art works left her house, which were exhibited not only in Lithuania but in Germany, Denmark, Poland and United States.


Jonas Augustaitis

(Born in 1919, Kiaulupiai village, died in 2010). Graduated Šakiai “Žiburio” gymnasium, later studied in Vytautas Magnus University lithuanian philology. Studies in Vilnius he finished in 1942. Most of his life he worked as a teacher, from which most of the teaching time was spent in Šakiai. Former students remember him for being a teacher who could coordinate strictness with humane and respectful behavior. The most precious student for him was Juozas Pikčilingis with whom he worked a lot. When he was a faculty of Lithuanian studies director, he always invited to the conferences some famous historians, philosophers, writers, linguists. In 1973, faculty was reorganized into Ethnographic association language section. J. Augustaitis stayed as chairman. In the same year J. Augustaitis organized first language day, which became a beautiful tradition. A very important aspect of J. Augustaitis is that he collected language data and organized the collections of these data. He collected all language data during the studying and working time. With his help, district Lithuanian philology specialists with their students recorded and wrote a lot of names for localities, names of lakes, rivers and zanavykai dialect words. Only for “Zanavykų šnektos žodynas” dictionary he presented over 5000 words. J. Augustaitis published books “Gyvenimo keliu”, “Įkalinta jaunystė” and “Žiburiečiai svetimoj padangėj”. For his work, for his input to Šakiai district culture, national language and zanavykai dialect upholdings, he was granted Šakiai Honorary citizen name.


Kunze Gotthard Johanes

(Born in January 29, 1956). Johanes childhood was in Dorfchemnitz town, later he acquired joiner’s speciality and a lot of his time he worked in his parents firm. Today he is an honorable and valuated employee in Lehmbau Langer firm, in Brünlos town (Germany). In 1981, Johannes created his family with his wife - Christina Kunze. In their marriage 5 children were born. Whole life of their family was based on Christian faith.

  1. Kunze is an active member of Brünlos evangelists Lutherans parish. Actively takes part in parish’s life, also he is a member of parish’s council and is a member of Evangelical church land community brotherhood. Also, Johannes takes part in his town’s political life as a free vote member. From 1996, Kunze Gotthard Johannes supports and helps Christians in Šakiai and Sudargas. He has a lot of useful contacts in Germany that help him accomplish Support projects in Šakiai district. He gathered a lot of like-minded people with whom he came to Šakiai district with the Help mission more than 85 times. Therefore, only for Šakiai district welfare Johannes drove 250 000 kilometers, sacrificed his holidays – often on weekends and free time after his work, he helped Šakiai district. All of his visits in Šakiai city were led by his hard work in building and later renovating Šakiai child care home, establishing rooms in child care home for children who became legal age, organizing premises for anonymous alcoholics meetings, and building Daily Employment Center for people with disability. Because of his concern, child care home was modernized and its heating system was renewed, which cost 60 000 litas. Johannes with the group of people, repaired not only one but many houses where Šakiai district families were living in a low condition. For his initiative, every year before Christmas, Šakiai district orphanage children and other 200 children who live in a low condition lifestyle, get presents. For his sacrificed work Kunze Gotthard Johannes was appraised at its true worth in Germany. He was rewarded with a merit medal in Zwönitz city. In 2011, by Šakiai district council decision, Johannes was granted the name of Šakiai district Honorary citizen for his charitable social activity, for restoring Šakiai children orphanage, and for helping families that needed support.


Honor prelate Antanas Maskeliūnas

Antanas Maskeliūnas born in March 19, 1931, Vainiūnai village, Lazdijai district, in a hardworking and religious family. After finishing Kaunas priest’s seminary, in December 19, 1954, A. Maskeliūnas was ordained into priests. During hard time, when priests were persecuted, he was a priest in Saulėnai, Sangrūda; was a Marijampolė vice-dean, was a dean in Kudirkos Naumiestis church, in Aleksotas as well. In 1971, he was appointed to Sintautai parish and Holy Virgin Mary going to heaven church and was a priest there till 2010. From 1992, he was Šakiai deanery dean, also on the same year, on 8th May, he became Popes honorary prelate. In August 26, 2016, A. Maskeliūnas resigned from Sintautai parish dean duties and was let out to live in Marijampolė special social care institution. In Sintautai he found a church, which was damaged during Second World War and covered in trees and bushes, and a building which was a temporary church. With a lot of energy he then started to renovate that building. Rector A. Maskeliūnas had to go a long road for getting permission to rebuild demolished church. He donated his time, health, energy to accomplish his biggest goal. In 1995, with his efforts and concern the Sintautai church was rebuilt. For his accomplishments to Sintautai parish, he was rewarded with a name of Honorary prelate, in newspaper “Valsčius” he was chosen to be Man of the year. In November 27, 2015, ruling no. T-228 district council for Antanas Maskeliūnas granted Šakiai district Honorary name. A. Maskeliūnas was an honorable, loved priest not only in his parish, but also in the whole district, because of his tolerance, spirituality, hard work, simplicity he attracted a lot of young and old people. To communicate with the priest and join his religious services people came from different places. He took care of M. Valančius children organization “Valančiukai”. He actively worked in a pastoral position, attended public, cultural events. Honorary prelate Antanas Maskeliūnas once told “We think, that we can do everything. However there is a special invite from the God. God invites us to live, to work. God invited me to work in this job. And I do not know, I cannot find any scientific explanation why I live like this. And I want to live, and I choose this profesion, and I am satisfied only here”. That says everything about Priest Antanas Maskeliūnas. Prelate Antanas Maskeliūnas died in January 11, 2017, buried in Vilkaviškis cathedral churchyard.


Romas Treideris

Born on 16 August 1931. Lauckaimis, near that time Kudirkos Naumiestis. He studied in V. Kudirka primary school, post-war year finished secondary school. After graduating from Kaunas Poli-technical Institute, he received appointment to Vilnius. Here he worked as general professional-technical training administrator at the Management Board, the chairman of the Education-Production Department, later in Vilnius grinding machine factory as a general energetics specialist. After working for sixteen years, R.Treideris’s works were recognized as inventions. R. Treideris in Kudirkos Naumiestis lived until 1952, He calls himself “a true citizen of Kudirkos Naumiestis from the roots…” Probably, we would not find another person in Lithuania, so thoroughly and precisely documenting facts, so well sophisticating them, such a sincere attendant, and still participating in all events involving Vincas Kudirka highlighting all of his biography, his heritage, and protection of remembrance, creation of the memorial museum and etc. Romas Treideris is the man who returned Lithuania national anthem’s letter and said, that”… a lot of people sing this anthem in a wrong way.” The most important years of his life, R. Treideris chose 1986s, when by a mistake he joined to a V. Žemkalnis – Lansbergis quartek (along with teacher N. Manikienė and architect A. Kybarcas). Later he had concerns about Pranas Mašiotas memorial commemoration, fixing the grave of doctor Vincas Kudirka (in 1990, in the gravestone of Vincas Kudirka one strophe, which tsar gendarme removed in 1903, reappeared again). Also, R. Treideris, actively participated in rebuilding Vytautas Magnus monument, which, during the war, was destroyed by Bolsheviks. He participated in restoring bas-relief of V. Kudirka Bridge; R. Treideris has never been moved away from culture and history. About his accumulated vast and valuable historical, ethnographical knowledge about Kudirkos Naumiestis, and creative individuals, who were born in his surroundings, were all published in many books, articles in journal “Suvalkija”. About this, Mr. R. Treideris simply explains as: “I am an inventor, I have experience in searching, examining, solving…”


Established the Vincas Kudirka Fund in 1991, in which one of the founders was R. Treideris. The foundation has set a goal -- to implement the idea from 1924: to build a new museum for Vincas Kudirka, in Kudirkos Naumiestis. The museum was started in 1993 and completed in 1998. While preparing for the first floor exposure dedicated for city’s history, a lot of R. Treideris exhibits were given to the museum from his personal collection. In 2005, in cooperation with the professor G. Česnis and historian B. Kulnytė a book was published - "Lietuvos himnas”; also in 2006, a book Vinco Kudirkos vidurinė mokykla stalinizmo metais“ was published and in 2011, the book “Lietuvos himno gimtinė“ was released. In 2014, Vilnius Zanavykai community member Romas Treideris and Lithuania National Museum prepared an exhibition „Tautiškos giesmės kelias į tautą“, which travelled over the whole Lithuania. A book with the same title was released. In 2015 together with Professor Giedrė Čepaitienė prepared and issued monography „Kudirkos Naumiestis: praeitis ir dabartis“. In the publication not only the history of this town was put, but also tales about people who lived there and all tales about villages near Kudirkos Naumiestis, and old photos as well. Mr. R. Treideris reviewed A. Miškinis book “Kudirkos Naumiestis”. He was one of the reviewers of R. Koženiauskienė book, which was dedicated for Vincas Kudirka 150 year’s anniversary and 110 years anniversary of national anthem “Tautiška Giesmė”, and „Būkim šviesos ir tiesos vaikai“. About one third of R. Treideris exhibits became property of V. Kudirka Museum, in Kudirkos Naumiestis. In Mr. R. Treideris archives we can find such iconographical material about Kudirkos Naumiestis and newspaper “Varpas” few original pieces, which no one in Lithuania has. A part of them are in the book “Lietuvos himno gimtinė”, other part is secured for book “Tautiška giesmė” publishing. For his merits in researching and securing Kudirkos Naumiestis history R. Treideris in 2004, was awarded by “Varpas” nomination and in 2016 he was granted Šakiai district Honorary citizen name.


Stasė Valkerienė


Stasė Valkerienė – a doctor. She was born on November 1st, 1946, Kybartai, Vilkaviškis district. She finished Kybartai middle school and in 1985 started studying, on that time, in Kaunas medical institution (now Lithuanian university of health sciences). In 1971, by appointment went to Šakiai and started working as pediatrician in Šakiai hospital, children department. In 1973, she was appointed to work as a head of children’s consultation department. From 1976 doctor was appointed to be head of children diseases section, in Šakiai hospital and is working there till now. In 1986 doctor was granted a degree of highest pediatrician qualification.


Doctor’s kindness, cooperation and perfect professional ethics is a big wealth for all family doctors, which are always guaranteed that patients who were sent to doctor S. Valkerienė for consultations will always get the right modern medical help. This is a big aid for all Šakiai district families that have children.


Doctor S. Valkerienė for her splendid and honest work in 1987 was rewarded with a Health security excellent badge, which was ordered by the minister of Health security department. In 2011, Health security department minister rewarded doctor with a letter of appreciation for 95th anniversary of Šakiai Hospital. In 2016, S. Valkerienė was rewarded with a letter of appreciation from Šakiai district local government for her honest, longtime work.

Paskutinis atnaujinimas: 2019-04-05 15:05:10