Speaking at the Elijah Iles House, Springfield, Sept. 23, 2015.

Speaking at the Elijah Iles House, Springfield, Sept. 23, 2015.

More than 60 people attended the first public presentation of my book, “A Century of Lithuanians in Springfield, Illinois”  last night. The room was so packed that Senator Dick Durbin’s wife Loretta had to sit out of sight, but hopefully, not out of earshot, on the stairs.

The event was held in the beautifully-appointed basement of the Elijah Iles House–the oldest surviving home in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln once socialized and played cards.

The best thing about the evening was finally being with the Lithuanian-Americans for whom I had spent so many lonely hours writing the book–feeling their excitement and seeing how important it was to them. For 90 minutes, I was the sold-out author of a best-seller. Does it get any better than that?

Gov. Bruce Rauner was invited to stop by our book “pre-party” at an outdoor restaurant downtown. In the photo below, I am standing (in white at right) to shout across the table to him about our Lithuanian-American group and our history in Springfield. He asked the name of my book and probably won’t find the title hard to remember.


Some in our group posed for selfies. Others quietly gritted their teeth. Politics aside, it added to my evening to be able to have the unexpected opportunity to put Lithuania on the governor’s radar, even in such a small way.

Two sisters traveled all the way from St. Paul, Minnesota to be here for the launch: Terri White and Kathy White DeGrote–descendants of Springfield’s Lithuanian Gilletties-Cooper family. Other attendees at the book presentation were Bob Narmont, Connie Klutnick and her sister Sue Tin, Romualda Sidlauskas Capranica and her daughter Diane, Joan Naumovich, Kathy Begando, Pamela Shadis, Kristina Mucinskas, Pat Towner and Barb Devine, and Sandy and Claudio Pecori. Lithuanian-American Club officers Rick Dunham and Irena Sorrells, who took both of these photos, also shared in the occasion.

My dedicated volunteer book researcher Tom Mann attended with his wife Mary (Naumovich) Mann, and so did Melinda McDonald, the original inspiration for my blog and my most faithful supporter, brain trust, and idea bank through the entire life cycle of my book project. Couldn’t have done it without them!

Three members of the Kaylor clan from Riverton and Linda Mann Fleming of Taylorville also honored us with their presence.

Thank you so much, everyone who shared this very special evening. I woke up this morning with the afterglow of knowing that at least for Lithuanians Springfield, I have produced a book that is unique in all the world.