Another long-time Springfield-area Lithuanian died recently: Irene Kudirka, 85.
Many of us remember Irene and her husband, George A. Kudirka, M.D., of Mason City, from Lithuanian-American Club dinner dances, picnics and Christmas parties in the 1990s and early 2000s. George passed away at age 88 back in October 2011. He was born in Alytus, Lithuania on April 29, 1923, graduated from “Ausros” High School for boys in Kaunas, and earned his M.D. at Tuebingen University in Tuebingen, Germany as a person displaced by World War II.
After emigrating to the United States, George completed his medical internship and residency as a family practitioner in New York City. He was a diplomate and fellow, in good standing, of the American College of Family Physicians for 50 years. He was board-certified and attended annual medical conferences with his wife Irene around the world. George was also a Korean War veteran, serving as a physician with the rank of captain.
Irene (Giedrys) Kudirka, who died last week (March 1, 2013) in California, was born in Kybartas, Lithuania on June 21, 1927. Together with her parents, Andreas and Berta, and older brother, Eugene, Irene moved to Kaunas, Lithuania as a child, where she attended school.
During the Second World War, her father was a prisoner of the occupying Soviets at the Kaunas 9th Fort Prison. After her father was released, the family fled to Germany and ended up living as refugees in the “Haunstetten” displaced persons camp in Augsburg. While still in Germany, Irene graduated from Saint Theresa’s Catholic Girls High School. She emigrated with her parents to Brooklyn, NY in 1949. In 1951, she married George while he was completing his residency, and the couple remained married for 60 years.
In 1951 they settled in Mason City, Illinois, where they resided for 50 years, raising a family of five children; sons George of Tuscaloosa, AL, Tom of Santa Monica, CA, Anthony of Milford, MI, John of Thousand Oaks, CA, and daughter Daina (Kudirka) Shuster of Arcadia, CA. All of George and Irene’s children are college graduates: three sons hold medical degrees; one son, masters degrees in public administration and international business; and daughter Daina, a BS in nursing.
The funeral service for Irene Kudirka in Mason City will be held at Hurley Funeral Home on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service beginning at 1:00 p.m. Graveside services will follow at the Mason City Cemetery, where George is also buried.
Both George and Irene were uprooted by war, had their educations and families disrupted, and were forced by circumstances to emigrate at least twice by the age of 25. They were remarkable people with remarkable stories that I hope I can someday post in further detail. For now, we offer our sympathy to George and Irene’s children and grandchildren.