Elmars Kalnaraups



Elmars lived a long, healthy, independent life until becoming ill this past fall. The last 3 months of his life were spent in hospice care near his family in Ann Arbor where he passed away peacefully. Cremation has taken place.

Elmars was born on the family farm in Birzi, Latvia in 1929. In 1944 at the age of 15, he along with his younger sister, Dzintra, and parents Peteris and Otilija, were forced to flee from the Soviet reinvasion of Latvia to Germany. After the war, they lived in Displaced Persons Camps until the family was able to immigrate to the United States after finding a sponsor. Once they were able to do so, the family moved to Grand Rapids to be part of a growing Latvian community.

Soon after arriving in the U.S., Elmars enlisted in the Army. He was in the Military Police Corps and spent two years in Korea. He was very proud of his military service. Upon returning home, Elmars married Inara (Liedskalnins) in June of 1956. They had two sons, Art and Kurt. Their marriage spanned 52 years until Inara died of leukemia in June of 2008. The family enjoyed countless winter weekends skiing, and summer vacations boating, at their cottage in Bear Lake.

Elmars earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Michigan University. He had a long career as a middle school industrial arts teacher with the St. Joseph Public Schools. His passion for woodworking went beyond teaching. He had a home shop and was always working on a project. He built one of his homes and helped his son, Art, build his as well. He also enjoyed building and flying model airplanes, which he did until a few years ago.

Elmars was proud of his Latvian heritage and was a member of the Latvian Lutheran Church. He was joyful about being able to visit Latvia after it gained back its independence from the Soviet Union.

Elmars was preceded in death by his father, Peteris (1958); mother, Otilija (Geide 1996); his wife, Inara (Liedskalnins 2008); and son, Artis (2016).  He is survived by his son, Kurt; granddaughters, Ilze (Carey) Chesney and Emma Kalnaraups; daughter-in-law, Shaugn Harris; sister, Dzintra Kukainis; nephews, Maris (Tamara) Kukainis and Lauris Kukainis; his great-granddaughter, Fiona; and great-nephews, Benjamin, and Daniel Kukainis.

Visitation will be at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Funeral Home, 3980 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at 11am. A memorial service will follow at 12pm with the Rev. Aija Graham officiating. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery.

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