Skaidrite Kankis

Skaidrite Kankis passed away at age 95 on October 8, 2019 in Topeka. She was born Skaidrite Ozols to Alberts (who passed away before her birth) and Anna (Kalcenavs), on March 30, 1924 in Rujiena, Latvia. She married Karlis Bresavs, and in March 1944, daughter Daiga was born. Only a few months later, the Russians invaded Latvia, and Karlis was sent to Siberia. At age 20, with a 6 month old baby, Skaidrite escaped on the last train to Germany. The rest of her family did not make it out. Not knowing whether her husband was still alive (years later, finding out he was, and had returned to Soviet Latvia), she spent 5 years in a DP (displaced persons) camp in Germany. There she met Fricis Kankis, and eventually made it to New Orleans by ship on Christmas Day, 1949. The family settled in Topeka, Kansas, where they had sponsors. They were members of St. John’s Lutheran Church. Skaidrite worked various jobs at the state hospital, as a meat wrapper at Safeway, as a liquor store clerk, and most recently at Patio, Pool, and Fireside, retiring in 1998. She was lucky enough to enjoy many family trips, including a return to her native Latvia after 5 decades. The last several years, she travelled to Mexico, where she made friends with everyone, including resort staff, who especially treated her like a queen.

Skaidrite was preceded in death by her parents, husbands Karlis and Fricis, and son-in-law Girts. Daughter Daiga Purins and granddaughter Indra of the home survive, as well as friends and relatives across the US, Latvia, and Canada.

There are no services planned. Cremation has taken place, and inurnment at the Latvian Memorial Park in the Catskills, NY, is planned for next fall. There, Skaidrite will join Fricis and Girts.

Memorial donations can be sent to Latvian Center Garezers in Three Rivers, MI, on Facebook, or at

4 “Skaidrite Kankis

  1. Daiga, I’m so sorry I missed connecting with you and your mother before she passed. I saw her BD announcement in the paper in April and thought I would try to see both of you, but that got filed under “my things to do list” and you know how that goes. I remember my dad, Allen Bowman, taking us kids over to see Fritz, your mom and you in the late 50’s at 814 Medford and playing near the creek. So many wonderful memories. I hope we can get together and see each other after all these years. We just moved my mom, Dorothy, to Plaza West a couple of months ago. I don’t know if you remember my brothers, Steve & Michael. Anyway, I’ll try to call soon.
    Karen Bowman Simecka

  2. Sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. I was fortunate enough to meet them and know them back about the time they built the second house there just off 41st with the iconic blue door. My dad worked at Goodyear and knew him from there. I remember that old Ford truck that dad helped do a brake job on it and to test it Mr. Kankis took us to the original Dunkin Donuts on 21st for a donut. I actually still own a bedroom set they sold to my parents all those years ago. Feel fortunate to have met them. Oh and my dad bought a brown Ford truck from Girts and Diaga that was the first vehicle I learned how to drive an automatic transmission on. Anyway she was always kind and soft spoken around me. And the dogs the German short hair and later that huge German shepherd.

  3. Beautiful story of strength and culture. Well written Indra! Warm wishes to you and your beautiful Mother. Edward and Janet Powell

  4. So sorry to learn of Skaidrite’s passing (“Rita”, as I knew her when I was young). Please accept my heart felt condolences.

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