Otilija (Dilytė) Valiūnas, of Amherst, MA, died at home, surrounded by her family, on January 17th, a month shy of her 101st birthday. Born on February 15th 1921, in the village of Svydžiai in the Biržai district of Lithuania, she was the youngest of five daughters. In 1943, during the height of World War II, she married agronomist Joseph Valiūnas. As the Soviet Army advanced westward in 1944 to recapture the Baltic nations, she and her young family had to abandon their farm and escape in a horse-drawn wagon to a refugee settlement in British occupied Germany.
After five years in the refugee camp, the family relocated to the village of Ellisville, MA, near Plymouth, where she and her husband worked tending a chicken farm before moving to Brockton, MA. While in Brockton, she was a master seamstress at the Mackintosh Coat factory for 28 years and member of International Garment Workers Union. Always busy with her talented hands and with many friends, she was known for her hand-sewn, knitted and crocheted outfits, traditional Lithuanian cuisine and her manicured gardens. Her love for animals never waned, even into her 100th year. She possessed the uncanny talent of taming the most stubborn feral cats.
Otilija was active in the Lithuanian community and a life-long member of the Prince of Peace (formerly Gethsemane) Lutheran Church in Brockton. During the height of the Cold War while on a trip to visit Soviet-occupied Lithuania, she hid a banned book about the Lithuanian language and history beneath her clothing. The book was later copied and disseminated as part of a decades-long resistance against the Soviets. For the last seven years she lived with her family in Amherst, MA.
Otilija was predeceased by her husband, Joseph, daughter Jurate, and son Rolandas. She is survived by her son Filibertas Valiūnas, daughter-in-law Jurate Valiūnas and grand-daughter Aleksandra Valiūnas of Amherst, MA; grand-daughter Liliana Valiūnas (Stephen Gable) and great-grandchildren Hudson and Alyssa of Northhampton, MA; Niece Renata Spakevicius and family, of Westwood; and nephew Ojaras Purvinis and family, of Lithuania.
Donations in her memory can be made to the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church of Brockton and Camp Neringa of Brattleboro, VT. All are welcome to attend her services on Wednesday, January 26 all at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 906 North Main St., Brockton with viewing at 10 a.m. and funeral at 11 a.m. followed by burial at Blue Hill Cemetery, Braintree.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Otilija (Dilytė) Valiūnas, please visit our floral store.