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Early Years
Lithuanian Activities
Middle Years
Seattle Life
Aug. 7, 2013

Hi, Nijole,

I'm one of the many "paukstytes" [Translation: "bluebirds" - youngest level of Girl Scouts]who knew and loved your sister back in Brighton Park. I found out about her untimely death from a mutual friend, Grazina (Maleckas) Swiatek, yesterday. I am so very sorry for your loss. Please accept my hearfelt condolences. My sympathy also goes out to your brother Romas. (We were in the same grade at Immaculate Conception grammar school.) The memorial website you've created for Valyte is very moving and brought me to tears. Even all these decades later, I could still hear her playful laugh and feel her warm, always amiable and down-to-earth spirit, as I made my way through the images you put together so lovingly. Thank you for these memories. I am one of the many, many, many people who will never forget Valyte...

Again, my best to you and your family,

Diana/ "Dina" (Gelazius) Kizlauskas
    Jan. 27, 2012

Valerie worked at Puget Sound Energy for many years in various departments, including the Engineering Department.  Even though she worked through a temporary agency, everyone considered her a valued part of the team.  In her last position at the company, Valerie handled documentation and archiving for the engineering library.   She worked in Engineering for about 3 years and during that time interacted with many different people at the company.  In her post as Engineering Assistant, she worked with engineering drawings and document control.  Her office was often a hub of activity since people sought her out knowing they would receive a helpful hand and a friendly smile.   

One of the things Val was most appreciated for was her exceptional knack for figuring out computers and software problems.  You could always count on her to troubleshoot problems with complex equipment in the department.  If she couldn't coach you on how to get the job done yourself, Val would stop what she was doing and just take care of it. She was a calm and patient colleague; always willing to help a co-worker and share her wry wit and keen observations.  

Many times we would see her staying late to help someone with a big deadline.  She made a big contribution to our department during a difficult time and we won't forget her or her many contributions.

Elaine Babby, Puget Sound Energy
    Jan. 26, 2012

I am so so sorry to hear about Vale. I last saw her at my house for Kucias. She reminded about some additional traditions that enhanced Kucias for me. I also remember going on a picinic with her to Darrington where she shared a special pasta salad. The world will be a sadder place without her on the planet.

Ramie Matutis
    Jan. 25, 2012

In the summer of 2006 I told Romas I would be spending 9 weeks in the Seattle area teaching a course at a local university. At his suggestion I contacted Valerie and met her shortly after getting settled in the area.  Our first excursion was in Ravenna Park(?) in the north part of the city for an ethnic festival.  Although it was an unusually hot day, there was ample shade from the beautiful trees, and we hiked a bit on some of the beautiful trails.  (She told me more than once how much she preferred the typical cool rainy weather to hot weather like we had that day!)  However, the heat was quite oppressive for the Lithuanian dance troupe, who were performing in heavy woolen costumes.  Valerie knew all the dancers, mentioning that in former years she had been one of them.  I know she was a great supporter of the Lithuanian community in the Seattle area.  During the afternoon we watched many groups dancing, ate some excellent ethnic food, and visited with some of the participants.  I enjoyed the day very much.             

            We agreed to meet again.  Our second and third memorable meetings were spent in local botanical gardens, of which Valerie was particularly fond.  One was on an old estate, I believe, and the other was at what I believe were the Bradner Gardens(?).   My Chinese hostess, Linn Yang and I shared her enthusiasm for both remarkably beautiful places, and appreciated Valerie’s showing them to us.

            I think it was because of Valerie’s enthusiasm for beautiful flower gardens that encouraged me to seek out others while I was in the area that summer.  In fact, one of the garden tours I took gave me the idea to hold such a tour in Tallahassee, and to make it a backyard wildlife tour sponsored by our local Audubon chapter.  Now about to enjoy its fourth season in Tallahassee, the tour reminds me of Valerie Sparkis, and I know she would have enjoyed these tours very much, especially because they are held in the cool season here!

            With sympathy to all who knew this very fine woman with a great love of and appreciation for natural beauty .

Elizabeth Platt (friend of Romas)

    Jan. 25, 2012

I remember Vale from days in Chicago when she belonged to the Neo-Lituanai Folk Dance Group.  I was a little girl and tagged along every Thursday evening with my mom, the dance teacher.  Vale would laugh and laugh with me and always ask me thought provoking questions and swing me by my arms round and round in a circle, until she was dizzy probably.  I remember not wanting to stop our spinning.  I loved all the attention when Vale was sitting out a dance.

I wish I could have had more time with Valyte in Seattle.  I remember her here, trying so hard to organize activities, especially for the children.  

Neris Palunas

Jan. 25, 2012

I'm not a good person to ask about the past. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. That's why it was so strange that I thought about Vale 6 months ago. I remember spending a lot of time with her the first few years at UIC (University of Illinois, Circle Campus), but I don't remember specifically what we talked about. I don't even remember how, or when, we drifted apart.

I remember that Vale's dad was jocular and that Valerie and her mom were more serious. I remember that her dad got a bunch of us girls (Vale, me, Zita, Kristina, and Julie?) a summer job at Cook County school of nursing, where we had a good time working together and fighting off the Mexican help. That summer, we all went to a party at Vytas Misiulis' home, then spent the night at my house. My mom called us all (except one, Zita?) in sick the next morning, and we spent the day at our pool. We all claimed food poisoning at work the next day!

See you soon.
Valenta-Bilar ("Judy Baby")

    Jan. 25, 2012

Most importantly, we want to share that Vale was always prepared! She took us to our first "Rocky Horror Picture Show". She had a bag of props with her, which helped define the entire evening for us. She brought newspaper, spray water bottles, and everything we needed to have a good time!

It was a special evening we will never forget. Mary Ellen remembers Vale giving her good sisterly advice, which she took to heart and found very useful and still today! Linas remembers that Vale was his favorite "flower child" listening to Phil Ochs.

Mary Ellen Pociute-Martis and Linas Martis
(Vytis dancers)
    Jan. 25, 2012

Jonas Miglinas (Vytis dancer) remembers she was always very nice and willing to dance with anyone!

Jan. 25, 2012

Jonas Platakis (Grandis dancer) remembers he asked Vale out for a date ...... and she refused! SMART GIRL!


Jan. 25, 2012

Eduardo Fabianovich remembers missing the opportunity to go out with her. She was a beautiful woman who, in spite of other things, was attractive to him.


Jan. 25, 2012

Mindaugas Macanskas from Uruguay remembers Vale being the center of his attention during a part of his life while in Chicago.

    Jan. 25, 2012

Algis Krasauskas remembers partying at Gintaras Club and the party continuing at Vale's apartment after the bar closed.

Jan. 25, 2012

Juozas Milavickas remembers Vale "the party girl". Vale introduced him to all of the late night bars in Brighton Park.


Jan. 25, 2012

Yes, it's so hard to remember all that was in the 60's & 70's, but I do remember we all had a good time and Vale was one important catalyst that made it all so special.

Yes, great basement parties, it was like going to a music concert, thank you Vale.

Thank you for dancing with me.
Thank you for inviting me in to your life.
Thank you for your beautiful smile.

See you, iki pasimatymo.

    Jan. 25, 2012

Like the juodikes like to say "you know we were ALL THAT, girl!"  Yes, we were so fotunate to grow up in that safe, happy world.  Music, friends, tautiniai sokiai, skautai, sestadienine mokykla!  We girls were a tight group and that is why we sailed so easily into adulthood, well there were a few bumps in the road........but that's life!

Love you all too and cherish our friendships,

Jan. 25, 2012

Oh yeah, I remember . . .  Aciu labai, aciu Valyte.  Such a lovingly protected atmosphere we had amongst us in which to do that growing up.  I now realize how rare that can be and appreciate y'all all the more.

Keep away from runaround Sue
Hey, hey, humba diddy diddy

Kristuks xoxo  

    Jan. 24, 2012

Miela Valyte,

Those were the days, my friend, we thought would never end, we'd sing and dance, forever and a day.....   You were such a big part of those days, Valyte, it was so much fun singing and dancing with you, especially those evenings at skautu stovykla, when the camp fire would die down, singing Dion songs and jumping over the dwindling flames. Music, love, laughter, even those growing pains of teenage years live on in my heart.  Thank you, Valyte!  I'm sure the singing and dancing up there is so much more wonderful beyond what we can imagine.  

Aloha, su meile,
Danute Vaiceliunas

Jan. 24, 2012

My life has been so enriched by having Vale in my life, especially in my teens and twenties. She was always warm and welcoming to me. So many memories of shared times, in the summer of 1964 talking about Grandis' upcoming trip to New York's World Fair in the Kelly High School auditorium as we waited for the morning bell to ring the beginning of our respective summer school classes, dancing with Grandis for many years, being in scouts together, the parties in her parents' basement, double dating on my 21st birthday, going to concerts at The Quiet Knight to hear Tom Rush perform, taking us on a lengthy tour of the Seattle area one of the first times we went out there with our young son Greg. I am so happy that during our last trip to Seattle Christmas 2010 I was seated next to her during Kucios at Zita's and Juozas's home. I was able to rub elbows with her easily one last time. She loved to talk, share her opinions, she was a seeker and searcher. I will miss her dearly.

Jurate Vaiceliunaite Mitchell


Jan. 24, 2012

Dear Nijole-

You are in my thoughts daily and I continue to hold you in my prayers. I know the world will never be the same for you without your beloved sister. This poem touched me, so I wanted to share it with you - just a little offering of love and support.

(friend of Nijole & Fritz)

By Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
Are turning
Their own bodies
Into pillars

of light,
Are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

In my lifetime
Leads back to this: the fires
And the black river of loss
Whose other side

Is salvation,
Whose meaning
None of us will ever know.
To live in this world

You must be able
To do three things:
To love what is mortal;
To hold it

Against your bones knowing
Your own life depends on it;
And, when the time comes to let it go,
To let it go.

    Jan. 23, 2012

Labas, mieloji.

Valyte is so blessed to have had you in her life. What a selfless, loving, compassionate sister you are. So, so sorry Valyte was so young.

Vale, as you know, was my confirmation "mother". What a gift she was to me! She was so hip - I remember her taking me to "hootenanys" and special musical events. Her perpetual glorious smile and heartfelt laugh always lifted my spirits and brought joy in my life.

Myliu, myliu, Nijolyte.
Sigute Mikutaitis Miller

Jan. 23, 2012

Labas Nijole,

We grieve with you and your family, Valyte's passing was a shock to me and Rasa. Our hearts are heavy. 

We know that Valyte is looking down on us with a smile, she had a beautiful smile, that's what's in my mind when I think of her. So let's smile for Vale, remembering her for her beauty.

I'm sending some Photos for the memorial. [NOTE: you can see them here:

Our Hearts are with you, your Family and all those present at the memorial.

With love,
Ben & Rasa

    Jan. 18, 2012


Thank you for informing all of us of the sad passing of Valyte.  I wanted to share that along with the "My Trip to Lithuania" sessions she also taught a beginning language class of Lithuanian, preparing many lessons and  handouts of vocabulary and grammar.  The classes were at the Montlake Park Recreation Center.  I will always  be grateful for her dedication and enthusiasm.

Suzanne Price

Jan. 18, 2012

Dear family of Valyte,

Our president, Rimas Miksys, informed the Seattle Lithuanian Community membership about Valyte’s passing this morning.  The Community plans to honor and celebrate her life on January 28.  

We are united with you in your deep grief of losing a loved member of your family.  We, too, have lost a loved and valuable member of our extended Lithuanian family in Seattle.

Zita Petkus

On Tuesday, January 17, our Lithuanian-American Community lost a very special member, Valyte Sparkis. Valyte has been a valuable and active member of the Bendruomene ever since she arrived in Seattle in 1989.  Back in the early ‘90’s on her own initiative Valyte started a children’s group with whom she conducted various scout-like activities, including a kaziuko muge (crafts bazaar) of sorts.  She gave them the name of Lankas, with the idea that the circle or hoop it represents brings the children of the community together.  When that same group of kids was brought together by other leaders for the first camp at Kursa, the name Lankas stuck, just as it did for the dance group associated with it.  Valyte is also the one who started holding “My Trip to Lithuania” information sessions for people traveling for the first time to newly-independent Lithuania. She became the de facto historian/archivist of the local Daughters of Lithuania – again on her own initiative.  In so many ways, she was a creative person who saw a need and did not need to be asked in order to work on a solution.  At one time she danced with Lietutis.  Her smiling face and helping hands were present at numerous Lithuanian events.

Deep condolences to Valyte's parents who though separated, are both feeling the crushing loss of a child.  Sincere sympathy to her baby sister Nijole and her husband in Santa Barbara, her brother Romas in Florida, her dear cousin and primary caregiver these last few months, Jerry Prismantas, and an extended clan of close relatives in Chicago, Omaha and California.

There will not be a wake, but you are invited to join us as we gather in a Celebration of Valyte's Life, Saturday morning, January 28, at the Latvian Hall. An exact time will be announced soon. If you have any pictures and stories to share about Valyte, her sister would love to hear from you; email ns @

Rimas Miksys
Lithuanian-American Community

    Jan. 18, 2012

Nijole -

It's very comforting to know that Val had a wonderful last day and that you were able to be with her. I know it must have been very difficult. My husband Steve, our son Jonas, and I all have good memories of Val. You might have noticed a note on the dining room table that Jonas wrote to her and that I read to her on Saturday. Even though he's now 21, Jonas remembered that it was Val who started the Lithuanian children's activities in Seattle and expressed his gratitude to her for that. It's important to know that even though Val is gone, her legacy lives on.

Please accept our deepest sympathy -
Jeanette Norris, Steve and Jonas Buck
    Jan. 18, 2012

As many knew, Nijole Sparkis - partner to Fritz Heede - said good bye to her sister today after a long illness of cancer. From what Nijole wrote to me tonight it seems the passage was as good as one could ask for. I feel if you read her words you will feel something beautiful and spiritual from this event that happened of family and more...please read on...perhaps the more we become in touch with this "Life event" that is called passing. Although we may never totally comprehend why and for what reasons this occurs, I do see that when this unknown event does occur, it has the magic of bringing the love and compassion from those close to us, as if to support the grieving ones with the strength of spirit and love and energy. Our arms become more than arms, they become beacons holding each other together to pull away from the sorrow, to elevate to new places, to use the time we still have to live the life we own, and become the shared love with others ...

Bernie (friend of Nijole & Fritz)

    Jan. 17, 2012

A Message from a special couple of Seattle Lithuanian Community octogenarians, who survived exile in Siberia:

Del Valytes Sparkytes likimo, mudu su Danute esame giliai sujaudinti, reiskiame Jos Mamai, sesutei, broliui, artimiesiems ir musu Bendruomenei nuosirdzia uzuojauta.             
Kiek mes pazinojome Valyte, kiek su Ja teko bendrauti, Ji visada palikdavo malonu, draugiska ispudi. Manome Bendruomene neteks istikimo nario, nuostabios Lietuvaites. Bet tokia Dievo Valia ir kiekvienas is musu,anksciau ar veliau privalesime Tam paklusti.

Labai gaila Valytes, pasigesime Jos malonaus zvilgsnio, skambaus balso, bet esame tikri, nors Valytes neteksime, bet Ji musu atmintyje liks visam musu likusiam gyvenimui.
Danute ir Vytautas Svagzdziai


Danute and I are deeply moved by the passing of Valyte Sparkyte. We express heartfelt condolences to her Mother, sister, brother, near and dear ones, and to our Community.

From as much as we knew Valyte, and had opportunities to interact with her, she always left a pleasing, friendly impression. We think the Community will lose a dedicated member, a remarkable Lithuanian. But that is God's Will and each of us, sooner or later, will have to surrender to It.

It is so sad about Valyte, we will miss her lovely countenance, her resonant voice, but we are certain, though we may lose Valyte, she will remain in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Danute & Vytautas Svagzdziai
    Jan. 17, 2012


Hello to each of you wonderful members of my sister's support group, and caring friends,

Valyte had a lovely last day on the planet today. The last few days she slept all the time, today she was very present. In the morning I asked her if she was in pain and she replied "mm mm" (no). She opened her eyes and looked at me a few times during the course of the day when I spoke to her. The head hospice nurse Jill Seymour came with Jill the social worker. They examined Valyte and said she was just hours away from
passing on, her pulse was not noticeable. They sat down and stayed with us a while. When I mentioned how responsive Valyte was today, they said it isn't uncommon for people to "rally" one last time. They also let us know that anyone across the country can approach any hospice for bereavement counseling if they need it. One thing they mentioned was
that sometimes a person will wait to hear from a loved one before passing on. That gave me the idea to make a few phone calls, spread out throughout the afternoon.

I called my brother and said Valyte couldn't respond but he could say what he needed to on the phone to her. I held the phone to her ear - he spoke beautifully, thanking her for certain ways in which she influenced him in life. She responded with mmmm's. Later I called my Dad, who last
week didn't know what to say to her - and today spoke so beautifully from his heart, he broke down in tears and she responded to him as well. Over the next few hours, I also called her cousin Irene Birdsall and finally my husband Fritz - both of whom said such beautiful loving things from their hearts to Valyte, and she responded to them as well. It was about a minute after Fritz hung up that she finally made her transition - just as cousin Jerry was walking into her door from after work. It was around 5:44pm.

Thank you, everyone, for being such a wonderful support for us during this greatest rite of passage in Valyte's life, and in life in general. Our hearts may be broken, but they are broken open with more love than ever, for everyone who has touched my sister's life over the years. I know she was greatly loved and that is more important than everything else.

Much love to you all,