"Goodbye" from her lifelong friend, Zita Burneikyte Petkus
Early Years
Lithuanian Activities
Middle Years
Seattle Life





















Feb. 20, 2012

Valyte, you were an important constant in the background of my life from the time we were pre-teens until you departed so prematurely.  It’s very difficult letting go of a lifelong friend.

I’ll always think back on the times we danced and sang and danced and danced and danced some more to our favorite group--then and now– the Beatles, with maybe a bit of Stones and Dion thrown in….. The time we shouted out the dialog in “Hard Day’s Night” before it was spoken on screen because we had already seen the movie over a dozen times--that got us some dirty looks from our fellow (younger) movie goers, but we were having too good a time to care.  Grandis, Lithuanian Girl Scouts, Saturday School, trips to Chicago’s Old Town, going to U of I at the Circle, the hangouts on 69th Street, good memories all.  I even ended up as a student in your Communications class where you were the TA.  When I gave the required speeches I could never tell whether you were laughing at my jokes because you knew me so well or because I was really funny!

You were my Maid of Honor.  You were the one who came with me on the drive to Seattle in my little VW Beetle in June of 1978, when I moved West to rejoin Juozas after I finished teaching out the school year.  What adventures we had!  Spending the night in Austin, Minnesota for car repairs after the alternator broke down on the freeway and we actually tried backing up to the exit we had just passed in order to get off the road (were we silly or what!).  Of course the cops flagged us down before we got several hundred yards but they had mercy on us when they heard our sob story.  So we spent our time in Austin playing pool and dancing in the bar with each other, ignoring the guys who were checking us out as they probably pondered why we preferred each other’s company to theirs (you were a LOT of fun!).  And we went shopping, of course.  I remember us being affected by the altitude and the Margaritas in Yellowstone Park – we were tipsy and began to imagine that bears were chasing us as we ran to our cabin.  There was the helicopter ride above Mount Rushmore; getting lost in Omak and, as long as we were there anyway, stopping at garage sales to shop (and why not!).  You were always a lousy navigator--a great bargain shopper  with a terrible sense of direction—but that was part of your appeal….

When John (Lennon) was killed in 1980, Juozas and I heard about it on the late night news – who else could I call at that hour of night whom I knew would feel what I was feeling?  You, of course.  You took my call at 1 in the morning and we cried together.  On one of your visits to Seattle, when we drove you out to the Cascades, we “discovered” the Lithuanian cemetery at Roslyn, and that was the start of spreading the news to Seattle Lithuanians about this up until then forgotten history.  You were among Lietutis’ biggest fans at the Vancouver ‘s Expo 86 World’s Fair.  And a few years later you moved to Seattle and the friendship continued full strength.  You gave me great ideas about how to get the word out to the rest of America about Seattle’s Lithuanian Community, “Tulpė Times”, and Lietutis.  Probably no one else beside me knows that you’re the one who suggested selling Christmas greeting ad space in Tulpė, a tradition that continues to this day.  You were the one I called at 12:30 one Friday night when I finally remembered I had made a commitment on the part of the Daughters to work at the Providence warehouse the next day on a medical container….and then I had forgotten to contact the Daughters!  Everyone else got a call the next morning from me, but I knew I could call you in the middle of the night and it would be OK.

You cared passionately about things, and that meant that the hurts of life cut you deeply.  You appeared strong and yet deep down you were very vulnerable; you were very smart but could sometimes be quite foolish; you gave so generously and you craved love but had no confidence that you were worthy of it; you were unique and creative but insecure, and so very, very human.  Most of all, you were a good, faithful friend.  I will miss your calling me up and saying, “Shall we carpool to (fill in the blank)?”  I will miss your getting lost en route to our destination whenever  you were the driver (“my car knows how to get there eventually”).  I will miss hearing, “Well, hi Zita!”, your singsong greeting after you picked up the phone.   Next Christmas at our Kūčios table there will be a place setting with a candle honoring your memory, and we will get teary when we share plotkelės with the friends who have joined us to share the most important meal of the year.  You were family.  You will be missed in so many more ways than these few, totally inadequate words can say.  May peace, happiness, joy and healing finally be yours:  Let It Be.   

Rest, Valyte, we’re not that far behind you.
Zita Petkus