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 garezers.org.