Dalė Lukas, an active member of The Lithuanian Scouts Association and the chair of the Lithuanian American Archives Committee, passed away peacefully on December 11, 2014 from cancer.
Dalė was born on May 10, 1937 in Marijampolė, to the family of Apolonija Kondrotaitė and Artūras Koklys. The family did not stay long in Marijampolė, and shortly after their daughter’s birth moved to Panevėžys, near Šeduva. When the Soviets occupied Lithuania, the Koklys family moved to Germany. One of the most vivid of Dalė‘s recollections was associated with the Soviet occupation. Her father, a member of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, was warned about a compiled list with his name on it of future deportees to Siberia.
The family lived in Germany until 1951. In the same year, they immigrated to the United States. While in the high school, Dalė wanted to become a journalist, but her parents were against it. They believed that given the circumstances it would be wiser to turn to a more practical career, that of a scientist. Dalė chose chemistry, which she studied at the Mount St. Joseph’s College in Cleveland, Ohio. Although Dalė worked in the field of chemistry for a very short time, she acknowledged the benefits of a science later while looking for a librarian position (she earned her MA in Library Science at the University of Maryland). For many years, Dalė had worked for the National Library of Medicine, at the National Institute of Health.
In her early years, Dalė was a passionate leader in the Lithuanian Girl Scouts Association. Later, she devoted herself to the Lithuanian-American Community where she served as chair of the Lithuanian Cultural Affairs Council and then chair of the Lithuanian American Archives Committee. During her long career in the Lithuanian American Community, Dalė also supported the Lithuanian arts, organising many exhibitions and performances of art, music and dance. She was also a board member of the Lithuanian Foundation, Lithuanian Research and Studies Centre, and Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Science.
In her later years, Dalė dedicated herself to the Lithuanian archives in North America. She regretted that Lithuanians living in the US and Canada are not very attentive to their historic treasures – archives and libraries. “I do not want to be dramatic, but when we talk about our collections and preservation of archives, we really are at the eleventh hour”, she said during one interview. “[After all] the main source for the future generations to draw conclusions about emigration, our national identity and its maintenance abroad will be our archives only”. Therefore, Dalė had tirelessly gathered archives from various Lithuanian organisations and parishes in the US.
Although she saw the misery of local archivists and the lack of funds, Dalė was convinced that it was necessary to preserve the archives. As chair of the Lithuanian American Archives Committee, she held a number of workshops for archivists working in archives, museums, and cultural centres in North America. The last such event was held in May 2014, at the Youth Centre, in Chicago.
In support of a vision proposed by Robertas Vitas, chairman of the Lithuanian Research and Studies Centre, a few years ago, Lukas pressed on the idea of establishing a centre, suitable for all Lithuanian archives in the US. Dalė believed that such a centre would be an ideal solution to keep and preserve Lithuanian archives and other cultural treasures in the US. She also believed that if there were a vision, the opportunities to fulfil it would arise.