Exhibition “Ieva Jankutė – daugther of Minor Lithuania”
Ieva Jankutė (Eva Milda Jankus-Gerola, 1924–2014) – a granddaughter of Minor Lithuania’s patriarch, Aušra (Dawn) movement leader, signatory of the Tilžė act, as well as a member of the State Council of Lithuania Martynas Jankus (1858-1946). Born on the 24th of June, 1924 in Bitėnai (Pagėgiai district), in the family of a master of waterways of the Klaipėda Canal Martynas Jankus (1892-1952), son of printing house worker Martynas Jankus. Graduated from Dreverna primary school. During the Second World War, the family had to move to Germany. I. Jankutė graduated from a secondary school in this country. In 1952, she arrived in Chicago (USA), studied laboratory sciencies, later, having finished two years’ studies at the College of Liberal Arts, obtained a Master’s degree. In 1958 she moved to Italy and started a family with an Italian doctor. After his death, she returned to the USA, New York, in 1978. In Chicago, as well as in New York,
she worked at hospitals.
I. Jankutė was a patriot and an active socialist all her life. While living in the USA, she supported the press of Minor Lithuania, joined the activity of the resistance movement, was it’s vice-chairman. In 1985 became a member of the board of the Fund of Minor Lithuania and a patron. Participated in the activities of the Lithuanian House "Židinys" - organized events, concerts, and trips.
In 2002 I. Jankutė returned to Lithuania, settled in Klaipėda, where her grandfather M. Jankus worked and lived for a while with his family. Throughout her life, I. Jankutė continued the work of her grandfather of fostering and spreading of Lithuanianness. She got actively engaged into the activities of the Minor Lithuanian Society. In 2006, she esatblished the Martynas Jankus’ premium, which was awarded to the protectionists and propagators of Minor Lithuania heritage. From the same year, she was the sponsor of the Lithuanian historical newspaper “Voruta” and the honorary publisher of all volumes of the Encyclopedia of Minor Lithuania. In 2010, I. Jankutė organized and funded the cleaning-up of heavily ruined Bitėnai-Šilėnai cemetry. Actively participating in the activities of the Klaipėda branch of the Minor Lithuania’s affairs council, she supported the initiative of building a monument to Vydūnas and also became the first sponsor of the project. Her public activity and lifelong work has been awarded with the Order for Merits to Lithuania(2011), while Pagėgiai municipality grated her a honorary citizenship of the Pagėgiai region (2013).
I. Jankutė died on 13th of September, 2014, and on 17th of September was solemnly buried in the Bitėnai-Šilėnai cemetery near her relatives.
The exhibition was prepared in the framework of the project „Centennial of Lithuania in the exhibits of Lithuanian museums”, which is supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The project is dedicated to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of the Lithuanian state.