Latvian-Canadian leaves large gift to fund theology scholarships

A Latvian-Canadian man who died three years ago has left a CAD 500,000 gift to the University of Latvia to fund scholarships for undergraduate and graduate theology students.

The gift from the estate of Žanis Lapuķis (1913-2008) is equivalent to about LVL 250,000, according to Laine Dobulāne, a spokesperson for the University of Latvia Fund in Rīga. Those who receive the scholarships are expected to stay in Latvia to work as ministers in Lutheran churches or as in religion instructors in schools.

The first scholarships, totaling LVL 15,900, will be available this autumn. The application period will run from Aug. 29 through Sept. 29.

Lapuķis was born March 28, 1913, into a farm family in Skrunda. He completed the Nīkrāce elementary school in 1928. In 1934, he began studying in the Cīrava forestry school near Aizpute. From 1937-1944, he served as a forest ranger near Ventspils.

Lapuķis left Latvia in 1944 and eventually settled in Hamilton, Canada. He worked in a brick factory and became an active member of the Christ Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church in Hamilton, where he served as a member and leader of the congregation’s choir.

Lapuķis died May 9, 2008, in the Kristus Dārzs retirement home in Toronto.

Žanis Lapuķis

Žanis Lapuķis, seen in a portrait from 1934, has left a large monetary gift to the University of Latvia. (Photo from University of Latvia Fund)

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