Elga E. Smildzins
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AGE: 91 • Lakewood
Elga Elvira Rita Smildzins born in Talsi, Latvia on February 9, 1922, passed away Monday, April 1, 2013, at Community Medical Center, Toms River, and is now with her beloved husband in Heaven. An inspiration to her family and friends, she balanced life, work and continuance of the Latvian culture. Attending schools in her hometown and nearby Stende, Latvia she took her education seriously. With her high school diploma she eventually instructed laboratory work at Fitkin Hospital (now Jersey Shore University Medical Center). This road was not without pain and suffering, as the day she graduated in Latvia was the night that the Soviet Communists rounded up relatives, friends and neighbors and deported them to Siberia where many died. From 1941 to 1944, she studied at the agriculture academy but when studies were interrupted by the Red Army re-occupying Latvia she and her husband, Ansis, fled Latvia for freedom in the west. Living at a displaced persons camp in West Germany, she had a son, Olaf. By 1948, a sponsor, who needed workers in Mississippi to pick cotton, enabled the young family to immigrate to the United States.
Fortunately, a Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania heard about the plight of the Eastern Europeans and went out of their way to have her family move to Phoenixville, where they met many other re-settled Latvians. Gaining citizenship the family now grew with two sons, Imants and Aivars. In 1960 her husband, Ansis, transferred to the Toms River Chemical Corporation, where again a contingent of displaced Latvians worked at the plant or in home building. Working odd jobs Elga gained admittance to the medical technology school at Fitkin Hospital in 1963. After graduation, Elga briefly worked at Toms River Community Memorial Hospital and Paul Kimball until she returned to Fitkin Hospital where she retired some 25 years later.
Active in the Latvian Church, Choir, Predaine, and the Latvian Society Association, Elga always helped out others less fortunate and joyfully assisted whenever she could. She enjoyed reading, gardening and making the big holiday meals. Elga travelled back to Latvia whenever she could subject to the restrictions imposed by the Communists. After 1991 with the re-independence of Latvia, she brought her family back to Latvia to introduce them to the relatives they did not know other than from letters.
Elga is survived by her brother, Ivars Telle and wife Inga of Talsi, Latvia; sons, Aivars and Imants and wife Sandra, and Olaf and wife Marilyn; grandchildren, Troy and wife Sara, Katrina and Tritia of California, and Mike Staples and wife Beth of Pittsburgh; and three great-grandchildren.
Memorial service 11 a.m. Friday, April 26, followed by a traditional Latvian wake celebrating her life will be held at the Latvian Lutheran Church, 12 Gates Ave., East Brunswick.
Published in Asbury Park Press from Apr. 5 to Apr. 7, 2013