Valdas Adamkus was born into a family of civil servants in Kaunas on 3 November 1926. He studied at the Jonas Jablonskis Elementary School and the Auðra (Dawn) Gymnasium in Kaunas.
During World War II, he was involved in the resistance movement for Lithuania 's independence. Valdas Adamkus fled to Germany with his parents in July 1944.
After graduation from the Lithuanian Gymnasium in Germany , Valdas Adamkus studied at the Faculty of Natural Science at Munich University. In 1949, Valdas Adamkus came to the United States , where he was employed as a worker in a Chicago factory of car parts, later, as a draughtsman in an engineering firm. In 1960, he graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, with a degree in civil engineering.
In 1951, Valdas Adamkus married Alma Nutautaitë.
In early 70's Valdas Adamkus was invited to work for a newly established US federal environmental institution, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA). He headed the Environment Research Centre and was later appointed deputy administrator at the US EPA Region 5 (Midwest Region). In 1981, he was promoted to administrator of the Environment Protection Agency.
Face to Lithuania
Valdas Adamkus was active in public and political life of the Lithuanian expatriate community. Between 1958 and 1965, he was vice-chairman of the Santara-Ðviesa (Accord-Light) Cultural-Political Federation, a liberal civic organization of the Lithuanian expatriate community, acting under the slogan "Face to Lithuania ", and, in 1967, he was elected its chairman.
While living in the United States , Valdas Adamkus was an active organizer of protests against Lithuania 's occupation and the initiator of numerous petitions. Between 1961 and 1964, Adamkus was a member of the Board of the American-Lithuanian Community (LC), vice-chairman of the Centre Board, member of the American-Lithuanian Council (ALC).
Valdas Adamkus was an active participant and organiser of sports events. He won two gold and two silver medals in track-and-field events at the Olympic Games of the Enslaved Nations of 1948. In 1951, Valdas Adamkus established an academic sports club of Lithuanian Americans, Lituanica. He was chairman of the Organizing Committee of the World Lithuanian Games that were held in 1983.
Since 1972, Valdas Adamkus had been visiting Lithuania once or several times a year. Encouraging and supporting construction of water treatment facilities and development of environmental monitoring, Valdas Adamkus assisted environmental institutions of the Baltic States with academic literature, equipment and software supply.
In the capacity of the coordinator of US aid to the Baltic States in the field of environmental protection, Valdas Adamkus organized study visits for representatives of Lithuania 's academic institutions and helped Vilnius University to get hold of the latest academic literature.
In 1993, Valdas Adamkus headed the election campaign of presidential candidate Stasys Lozoraitis in Lithuania .
Consolidating the moderate political centre, he was actively involved in the campaign of the 1996 Lithuanian general parliamentary elections.
President of the Republic
In 1998, Valdas Adamkus was elected President of the Republic of Lithuania. He assumed the office on February 26, 1998. President Adamkus promoted the idea of rapid modernisation of Lithuania and worked consistently towards its implementation.
In 2002, Valdas Adamkus ran in the presidential elections for another term, in the second round, however, he lost to Rolandas Paksas. Upon completion of his term in the office, Valdas Adamkus remained active in domestic and foreign politics and gave lectures at international conferences.
In 2004, following the removal of Rolandas Paksas from the Office of the President by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus again ran in the presidential elections.
On June 27, 2004, citizens of Lithuania re-elected Valdas Adamkus President of the Republic for another five-year term. During his second term, President of the Republic is committed to create European wellbeing in every Lithuanian home and to guarantee that there is not a single abandoned person in Lithuania .
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Construction of Knowledge Societies
In 2003, President Valdas Adamkus was conferred the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Construction of Knowledge Societies. This title is held only by 42 individuals in the whole world, therefore, this honour shown to President Valdas Adamkus can certainly be viewed as the award to all the people of Lithuania .
In the area of knowledge society, UNESCO is involved in internet promotion, establishment of community internet centres, library and archive modernisation, development of E-government, implementation of information technologies in educational, women’s and children’s teaching institutions and decision-making structures.
With its own Goodwill Ambassador, Lithuania has now become even more visible among UNESCO member states.
In 1988, Valdas Adamkus was granted the International Environmental Award for outstanding achievements on the international arena. He has also been awarded the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal, the US President’s Award for Outstanding Service and the International Olympic Committee Award.
Valdas Adamkus was named the European of the Year 2007 at the European Voice Awards. In 2008, he was conferred the title of academician of the Lithuanian Olympic Academy for many years of active involvement in the Olympic movement and the promotion of its ideals.
The President of Lithuania has been bestowed 33 highest-class state decorations of various countries, including the Golden Collar of the City of Athens, the Order of Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Scouts Union, the Order of Star of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and the International Olympic Committee Award for Sport and Promotion of Olympism.
Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon, Iceland, 1998
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav, Norway, 1998
Order of Yaroslav the Wise, 1st Class, Ukraine, 1998
Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Estonia, 1999
Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, Greece, 1999
Collar and Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1999
Order of the White Eagle, Poland, 1999
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Malta, 1999
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Hungary, 1999
Grand Cross of the Order of Friendship, Kazakhstan, 2000
Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Three Stars, Latvia, 2001
Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour, France, 2001
Collar of the Star of Romania, Romania, 2001
St. Mesrob Mashtots Order, Armenia, 2002
Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose with Collar, Finland, 2002
Order “For Special Merits”, Uzbekistan, 2002
Order of Vytautas the Great with the Golden Collar, Lithuania, 2003.
Collar and Grand Cross of the Order of the White Star, Estonia, 2004
Order of Isabella the Catholic with Collar, Kingdom of Spain, 2005
Special Class of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Germany, 2005
Order of the White Double Cross, 1st Class, Slovakia, 2005
Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, Kingdom of Belgium, 2006
Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, 2006
The Most Honorable Order of the Bath, United Kingdom, 2006
Order for Merit, 1st Class, Ukraine, 2006
Order “Mother Theresa”, Albania, 2007
Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Japan, 2007
Grand Collar of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, Portugal, 2007
St. George’s Victory Order, Georgia, 2007
Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, 2008
- Collar of the Order for Merits to Chile, Republic of Chile, 2008
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria, Republic of Austria, 2009
- Order of Stara Planina, Republic of Bulgaria, 2009
Valdas Adamkus is the Honorary Doctor of universities in Lithuania and other countries:
- Vilnius University, 1989,
- Indiana St. Joseph's College, USA, 1991,
- Northwestern University, USA, 1994,
- Kaunas Technological University, 1998,
- The Catholic University of America, USA, 1998,
- University of Agriculture of Lithuania , 1999,
- Illinois Institute of Technology, USA, 1999,
- Eurasian University, Kazakhstan, 2000,
- De Paul University in Chicago, USA , 2001,
- Law University of Lithuania , 2001,
- Vytautas Magnus University, 2002,
- Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education, 2004,
- Yerevan State University, Armenia, 2006,
- Baku State University, Azerbaijan, 2006,
- Notre Dame University, USA, 2007,
- Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruñ, Poland, 2007,
- Tallinn University, Estonia, 2008,
- University of Chile, Chile, 2008.