Alexandra Kazickas was born Alexandra Kalvenas in Panvezys, a small town in Lithuania, on June 17, 1920. She died at home on Egypt Lane in East Hampton on Friday at the age of 91.
During the intervening years, Mrs. Kazickas was orphaned, studied economics, excelled at sports, sang like a bird, joined the anti-Communist underground with her husband, raised a family in the U.S, and devoted her life to philanthropy. She is survived by Joseph Kazickas, her husband of nearly 70 years, 4 children, and 11 grandchildren.
Mrs. Kazickas was orphaned while still in her teens. Despite the rough start, she found jobs, finished her secondary education, and studied economics at the University of Vilnius where she was a standout athlete. “It was during a game that the raven-haired beauty first caught the eye of a gangly scholar named Joseph Kazickas,” Mrs. Kazickas’s daughter, Jurate, wrote.
“One day he found himself sitting behind Alexandra during a class and worked up the courage to compliment her on her hat. ‘And, what do you think of the girl beneath the hat?” she asked. The couple married on Aug. 15, 1941.
It was wartime and dangerous. First the Nazis invaded Lithuania and then the Soviets occupied the country. The Kazickases were active in the anti-Soviet underground, but were forced to abandon their homeland in 1944. Until they found a way to emigrate to the United States, they spent three difficult and chaotic years in camps for displaced persons in Germany.
They initially settled in New Rochelle, N.Y., and raised four sons, Joseph Mindaugas of Amagansett, Alexander Kestutis (who died in 1976), Michael Vytautas of Demarest, N.J., John Algirdas of Sands Point, N.Y., and one daughter, Jurate Kazickas of New York City. The middle names of her sons were picked to maintain the family’s Lithuanian heritage. Her husband, Joseph, lives in East Hampton and Greenwich, Conn.
At one time, Mrs. Kaziackas dreamed of a career as an opera singer, but opera’s loss was the church choir’s gain. She sang at a Lithuanian church in New Haven while her husband was attending Yale University.
She became an excellent golfer known for her straight drives and competitive spirit. It was not unusual for her to win tournaments on the Maidstone Club links, and while playing for a penny a stroke with friends on Cat Cay in the Bahamas, the family’s winter home. While there, she made a practice to swim 1,000 breaststrokes nearly every day. She rode her bike around the island and did her calisthenics. She was proud of the fact that well into her 80s, she could touch the ground with her elbows while standing.
She loved to read, listen to music, and travel, especially to her now-independent homeland where her philanthropy benefited orphanages. In 2005, the family helped create the Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School in Riverhead. Memorial contributions were suggested for the school, c/o Neila Baumiliene, 127 Straight Path, Southampton 11968.
A funeral Mass was said at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton on Monday, the Rev. Peter DeSanctis of Shelter Island officiating. Mrs. Kazickas was cremated and her ashes were interred at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery.