Our Latvian patriarch, Visvaldis (Tauti, Valdi, Walter) Vanags passed away October 24, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 67 years – Vilhelmine “Willie”, daughters Mara (Steve) Dworak, Ilze (Mark) Hager, and son Juris (Barb) Vanags. His spirit lives on in the lives of his children, 12 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and grandnieces & grandnephews in Latvia and Hungary. Born in Irlava, Latvia, October 16, 1927, Taut led an amazing life in his pursuit of freedom and happiness. He escaped the perils of WWII, eventually finding his way to the U.S., through POW and Displaced Persons camps and the Civilian Labor Group (US Army) and his sponsor’s farm in Illinois.
He was penpals with Willie who was living in St. Paul where there was a strong Latvian community. After a visit there, he decided to leave Illinois and moved to St. Paul. Willie found him a job at St. Joseph’s Hospital one week later. He quickly saved up enough money to make a down payment for a brand new 1953 yellow Buick. That started his decades’ long love affair with automobiles. He then worked at Swift Meat Co. and then settled in as a 35 year employee of Hoerner Waldorf/Champion/RockTenn Paper companies, starting on the printed package finishing group and elevating to the tool and die department.
He was deeply proud of his Latvian heritage. He loved his family and friends, his Stillwater hobby farm, nature, bonfires, non-fiction/historical novels, music and sing-a-longs, and his black labs. Taut never met a home repair that 3M tape couldn’t fix. So we honor him, with happy memories, endless stories (who can forget his crushing grip!) and his gift of freedom and strong will he leaves behind for us to follow.
Our families are grateful for the care given to him at Keystone Place at Lavalle Fields in Hugo, MN and Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN.
Obituary that will be printed in the Pioneer Press:
October 16, 1927 – October 24, 2021
Survived by his wife, Vilhelmine "Willie"; children, Mara (Steve) Dworak, Ilze (Mark) Hager and Juris (Barbara) Vanags; 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Funeral Service 2:30pm on Friday, November 26th at Mueller Memorial, 4738 Bald Eagle Blvd., White Bear Lake. Visitation starting at 1pm.
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