On April 21, Springfield Lithuanian-American Laimutis (Limey) Nargelenas received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police at the group’s awards banquet in Oak Brook, Ill. Limey was recognized for his dedication and versatility in serving the Illinois Chiefs in many different capacities since he rose to Superintendent of the Illinois State Police in 1984.
Most recently, Limey was Manager of Governmental Relations (lobbyist) for the organization. But he has also been Deputy Director and Acting Executive Director, in addition to helping develop the organization’s training and quality assessment process for local police departments throughout the state. Since December 2015, he has served as full-time chief of Springfield’s Park District Police.
Limey is also a nominee for the 2017-2018 Board of Directors of the Lithuanian-American Club of Central Illinois. To learn about the family tradition of police work handed down from his Lithuanian immigrant father, please read below:
Inspired by role models like his father, a pre-War Lithuanian Border Control Officer, Limey Nargelenas has pursued a life-long career in police work. Only a few years after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1991, Limey had the privilege of traveling back to where his family story began to assist the fledgling independent police forces of Vilnius and Kaunas as a consultant and trainer with the Pointman Leadership Institute.
Limey’s father, Antanas Nargelenas, born in Ukmerge, Lithuania, was taken prisoner by the invading German army in 1941 in the line of duty securing Lithuania’s border. After the Russians invaded Lithuania for the second time in 1944, Antanas and his wife Jadvyga Snabelyte Nargelenas (born in Ruminskis, Lithuania), ended up in a displaced persons (DP) camp in Watenstedt, Germany, where Limey was born.
While refugees from the Nargelenas and Snabelys families were scattered across the world, Limey and his immediate family ended up in Georgetown, Ill., due to the kind sponsorship of the Gustaitas family. It was there that five-year-old Limey faced the prospect of learning English at St. Mary’s Grade School, after already having learned Lithuanian and German. Limey’s father, like so many other former professionals, had no choice but to become a factory worker (and build homes on the side) to support his growing family in the U.S.
However, local Lithuanian-American Illinois State Troopers became friends of the family and gave Limey’s father a continuing connection to police work. Limey still remembers looking up to local officers Walter Lumsargis, Leonard Balsis, Vernon Cook, and John Matulis. Their reputation for upholding the law in the face of small-town corruption made Limey aspire to be a state trooper when he grew up. “I will never forget the time, as a Boy Scout in Georgetown Troop 16, when I was given the opportunity to ride along with Trooper Walt Lumsargis, who later became Sheriff of Vermilion County. I got to be the acting Georgetown Police Chief that day.”
Limey also recalls with pride how his parents “faced the challenges of coming to America to start a new life, how quickly they learned to speak English, and how proud they were to earn their U.S. citizenship.” After both his parents passed away, Limey’s younger brother Paul, now a pilot for Delta airlines, lived with him for a time. (He has another brother, Romas, and two sisters.)
Limey says he’s been grateful for the opportunity to travel the world teaching classes or consulting for police departments in China, Mongolia, England, Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Germany, and Lithuania. He has also served as adjunct faculty for UIS, the Northwestern University Traffic Institute, Southern Illinois University and the University of North Florida. Limey is a former president of the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the Illinois Retired State Police Officers Association.
A graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute, Limey earned his M.A. in legal studies and B.A. in social justice from UIS. (His life story also includes varsity football at U of I and restaurant ownership in Springfield.) Today, Limey coordinates the legislative agenda for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police as president of Capitol Consulting, Inc., and is completing a Ph.D. from SIU-Carbondale in vocational education.