Monday, December 9, 2013

Dr. Aina Galejs, longtime supporter of Latvian international students, passes away

Dr. Aina Galejs
The UW-Eau Claire Foundation is sad to share the news of the passing of Dr. Aina Galejs, who since 1991 donated more than $500,000 to the Foundation to fund scholarships to students from Latvia to study at UW-Eau Claire. Dr. Galejs died Dec. 3 at her home in Minneapolis.

Dr. Galejs was born in Riga, Latvia,  in 1925. In her teens, she lost her father to Soviet Russian terror. As the Red Army returned in 1944, she fled Latvia with her mother. After the war, she studied at the University of Hamburg and earned her medical degree. In 1951, she came to the United States, becoming a Minnesota licensed physician in 1952 and specializing in pathology. She practiced pathology in the Twin Cities from 1956 to 1976 and continued to serve as a pathologist in a number of states until her retirement in 2002.

In the early 1990s, in connection with the newly established UW-Eau Claire study-abroad program at the University of Latvia, Galejs established an annual scholarship program for Latvian students for study at UW-Eau Claire. More than 50 students from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been recipients of the Dr. Aina Galejs Scholarship.

In 2006, Dr. Galejs received UW-Eau Claire's Honorary Alumnus Award, which is presented to nonalumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire.

"The selfless generosity and the commitment of Dr. Galejs to supporting the international education of these young individuals is a compelling testimony to her humanity," wrote Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education, in a letter to the award nominating committee.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to education and health in Latvia, Galejs was awarded its highest civilian honor, the Order of the Three Stars, by the Latvian government in 2002. She also was recognized for her selfless service with the extraordinary national award "The Pride of Latvia," and the University of Latvia named her an Honorary Member for her generous support of its students.

A full obituary for Dr. Galejs, including funeral service information, can be viewed online.