Stanley Balzekas, Jr. Balzekas Museum's 2019 'Man of the Year'

The Balzekas Museum proudly announces that the 2019 Award of Excellence will be awarded to the museum’s founder and most dedicated volunteer, Stanley Balzekas, Jr., for his leadership and distinguished service to the museum, Lithuanian immigration, and Lithuania, as well as to the civic and cultural life of the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the United States of America.  Stanley will be honored at the Museum’s 53rd Anniversary Excellence Award Dinner which will take place at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, Chicago, on Friday, October 11, 2019. The event coincides with Stanley’s formal induction into the Lithuanian Royal Society of Nobility and 95 birthday celebrations. Everyone is warmly invited to attend what promises to be a festive event.

Stanley’s life’s work and achievements bear witness to the contributions that immigrants make to the rich and diverse social fabric of this country and, by building bridges and fostering ties to their homeland, to the peace and stability of the world. A prominent business, civic, and cultural leader, Stanley Balzekas, Jr., was born in Chicago in 1924 to Lithuanian immigrants: the late Emily (nee Gregoravičius –  Gregorow) and Stanley Balzekas, Sr. After serving with distinction in Europe during WWII, where he earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for bravery, Stanley returned to Chicago to complete his B.S. and M.S. degrees at DePaul University and to work at his father’s automobile dealership. In 1953, he wed Irene Radvilas and started a family. The young and energetic couple quickly immersed itself in the civic and social life of the city. Concerned that Soviet-occupied Lithuania had disappeared from the map and eager to preserve and promote their Lithuanian heritage, Stanley and Irene rallied like-minded friends and volunteers to establish the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in 1966.

Apart from Museum activities, over the years Stanley has lent his tireless work ethic, leadership skills, and business acumen to numerous projects and organizations, including the Chicago Public Library and the Illinois State Museum boards, the Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Chicago-Vilnius Sister Cities Committee.  As a leader in the automobile business, he was given the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award in 1998. He continues to serve as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Lithuania in Palm Beach.

Stanley’s work in the humanities has earned him the Captive Nations Eisenhower Proclamation Medal and the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He received the Order of Lincoln, the highest honor given by the state of Illinois.

Stanley’s dedication to promoting Lithuania earned him the Star of Diplomacy from the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For his effectiveness in strengthening ties between Chicago and Vilnius, he was awarded the Medal of Žygimantas Augustas. In addition, for Merits to Lithuania, in 2016, Stanley was awarded Commander Grand Cross by decree of the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė.

2019 'Nobleman' of the Year

In light of a recent genealogical discovery that Stanley Balzekas, Jr.’s maternal ancestry (the Gregorow-Gregoravičius family) has ties to Lithuanian-Polish nobility, the Lithuanian Royal Society of Nobility decreed that Stanley Balzekas, Jr., was to be inducted into its ranks and conferred with special honors for his merits and contributions to Lithuania and the United States. Regrettably, Stanley was unable to attend the Society’s official induction ceremony in Lithuania this past July. However, the Vice-Headman of the Society, Dr. Robertas Savickas, will perform the ceremonial induction at this year’s Excellence Award Dinner. The event happens to coincide with Stanley’s 95th birthday and promises to be a distinctly festive celebration and tribute to the Museum’s 2019 ‘Man’ and ‘Nobleman’ of the Year. Everyone is warmly invited to attend! 

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