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May 17, 1924 - October 3, 2015
ANTANAS “TONY” MINELGA, 91
Tony Minelga, 91, of Lacey, Washington, passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at his home surrounded by family. Antanas was born on a small rural farm in Stakiai, Lithuania to Juozas and Natalija Minelga. Growing up on the farm, Antanas learned many of the skills that he used throughout his working life. Desiring an education, he left the farm to work and go to school in a larger, nearby village. World War II changed his life forever. He worked as a resistance fighter for his beloved country and trained as a paratrooper. Before the communists took over, Antanas fled Lithuania and spent several years in a displaced persons’ camp in Germany.
Tony immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in a Lithuanian community in the South Side of Chicago where he reunited with a childhood friend, Aldona . The married, started a family having two children – Kristina and Paul. He went to college and earned a degree in electrical engineering. They worked side by side in her family’s restaurant, then, they followed family west to Washington State. Tony started a construction company in Seattle, building and remodeling homes. After a few years, the extended family decided to purchase Lee’s Restaurant in Lacey. Tony and Aldona moved to Lacey to help with the restaurant and the trailer court next door – renamed “Tony’s Trailer Court.” Tony owned and managed the trailer court and an apartment complex by Lake Union near the University of Washington.
Tony loved to be in the outdoors. Free time was spent fishing for salmon and trout. He loved the mountains, summiting Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Saint Helens and Mount Shasta. He was a member of the Mountaineers. In the fall, you could find him on the slopes of Mt. Rainier searching for the mushrooms that he enjoyed in Lithuania. In the winter months you could find him skiing the slopes of the Cascades, especially White Pass. As the years passed, Tony and Aldona’s mutual love for nature took them on many memorable road trips to Alaska, Canada and the Southwest United States.
He was a craftsman and an expert woodworker. There was nothing that Tony couldn’t build, carve or construct from wood. His expert skills are evident in the family home he built overlooking the Nisqually River Valley.
Tony was a compassionate man who used his life energy to serve others. He was a member of the North Thurston Kiwanis for decades and was twice nominated for the Thurston County Citizen of the Year Award. Tony’s work with the Kiwanis was focused on their youth programs and Operation Santa. Tony spent a great deal of time helping the Lithuanian community in Western Washington. He never forgot the challenges he faced when he came to the United States. If he learned of an immigrant new to our area, Tony was one of the first to welcome them with furniture, food and friendship.
As Tony’s extended family grew, there were numerous young children at family gatherings. He loved children and young people. In reminiscing about their Uncle Tony, one memory has been repeated. Tony always had a treat or coin ready to give to them.
It is difficult to sum up a life spent in service and love for others. Antanas “Tony” Minelga approached his life’s challenges and successes with extraordinary optimism and joy. He was a devoted and loving husband and father. He was a humble man and never sought the limelight. Tony said that his place was “behind the scenes.”
Antanas is survived by his loving wife of 65 years – Aldona, children Kristina (Ryan) & Paul (Ulli), four grandchildren, Eric (Rebecca), Thomas (Claire), Danielle and Karsten and a great-grandson,Oliver.
A funeral mass and reception in celebration of Tony’s life will be held 9 am Monday, October 12th, at Sacred Heart Church, 812 Bowker St, Lacey.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Tony’s name to:
North Thurston Kiwanis – Youth Services Foundation
PO Box 5607
Lacey WA 98509
Daughters of Lithuania -Seattle Treasurer
22216 66th Ave W
Mountlake Terrace WA 98043.