In memoriam Professor Dr. Jonas Antanas Račkauskas

March 25, 2018

On March 19, 2018, Jonas Antanas Račkauskas, a long-time director of the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center (Chicago, IL), an honorary doctor of Lithuanian University of Educational Studies and Šiauliai University, educator and active member of Lithuanian diaspora, died.

Jonas Račkauskas.

Jonas Antanas Račkauskas was born in Švėkšna, Lithuania. After WWII he ended up living in the US. After graduating from high school in Chicago, in 1960 he started his studies in DePaul University. In 1964, Račkauskas graduated from the university earning his BA degree in Pedagogy and Psychology, and in 1968, his MA in School Administration. In the same year, he also graduated from the Pedagogical Institute of Lithuanian Studies.

In 1977, Račkauskas received his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Ottawa (Canada). The dissertation “The Educational Reform in the 18 Century Poland and Lithuania” was published in Chicago. In 1963-1967, Račkauskas worked at DePaul University. Starting in 1968, he taught at the Chicago State University. In 1981, he became a professor and taught there for 32 years. In 1966-1986, Račkauskas served in the US Army. He received a few US Army Awards, the highest being the Meritorious Service Medal (1986).

Račkauskas was an active member of American Lithuanian community, contributing in various ways to the life of Lithuanian diaspora. He was the editor of the journal Lituanus (1971-1978), the founder and chairman of the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center in Chicago (1981-2008). He participated in many other Lithuanian organizations, foundations, councils and held various positions: vice-chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Historians (since 1971), chairman of the Historians’ Section of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies (since 1978), rector of the Pedagogical Institute of Lithuanian Studies (since 1979), chairman of the Board of the Youth Center (1979- 1988) and chairman of the American Lithuanian Council (1996-2000), and etc.

Under his directorship, the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center did a lot to strengthen Lithuanian-American relations with Lithuania. He especially supported universities and libraries by inviting students and lecturers from Lithuania to do internship at the Center. Račkauskas organized the distribution of books published in diaspora to Lithuania, and etc.

Jonas Račkauskas meets Pope Saint John Paul II.

In 1996, for active involvement and merits to Lithuania the professor was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas. He also received awards from Lithuanian universities. In 1995, he was became an honorary doctorate of Lithuanian University of Educational Studies, and in 2004, Šiauliai University.

Photo credit: National Library of Lithuania.