Obituary of Mirdza Eglite
Mirdza (Lelis) Eglite: b. March 23, 1925; d. March 1, 2012. After a valiant struggle with cancer, Mirdza died in her home in Rockville, MD, around 6AM, Thursday March 1st. She is survived by her two younger brothers, Ojars Upatnieks and Juris Upatnieks , and by her five children, Maija Lelis, Arnold Lelis, Gunars Lelis, Ilgvars Lelis, and Aivars Lelis.
Mirdza was born in Riga, Latvia during its first years of Independence. As a teenager, she got separated from her parents and fled Latvia, through Nazi Germany, to escape the oncoming Red Army at the end of WWII. Miraculously she was later reunited with her parents after the war, in a Displaced Persons (DP) camp in the American Zone of Occupied Germany.
She met her future husband, Joseph Lelis, while waiting to get processed to come to America. They married in Akron, OH in 1950, and had 5 children together. They moved to Cambridge, MA in 1957, where Joseph earned a PhD in Linguistics from Harvard University. Subsequently, they settled in the Wash DC area in 1962. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1979.
Mirdza worked at The Nature Conservancy for over 20 years and retired in 1990. In the meantime, she had remarried in 1983 to Alfreds Eglitis. Both Alfreds Eglitis and Joseph Lelis died of cancer in 1989.
In her golden years, Mirdza wrote 2 novels, numerous short stories and poems (many of which were published in Latvian periodicals). She also free-lanced as a translator of books from English to Latvian, and Latvian to English. Her novels are still available in bookstores in Latvia, under the pen name, Laimdota Dzile.
A memorial service is being held on Sat. March 10th, at 11:00 AM, at the Latvian Ev Lutheran Church of Washington, DC, located at 400 Hurley Av, Rockville, MD. 20850-3121. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Latvian Ev Lutheran church at the address above.
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