Valdas Adamkus was born into a family of civil servants in Kaunas on 3 November 1926. He studied at the Jonas Jablonskis Elementary School and the Aušra (Dawn) Gymnasium in Kaunas.
During World War II, he was involved in the resistance movement for Lithuania‘s independence. Valdas Adamkus fled to Germany with his parents in July 1944.
In 1951, Valdas Adamkus married Alma Nutautaitė.
After graduation from the Lithuanian Gymnasium in Germany , Valdas Adamkus studied at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Munich University. In 1949, Valdas Adamkus came to the United States, where he was employed as a worker in a Chicago factory of car parts, later, as a draughtsman in an engineering firm. In 1960, he graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, with a degree in civil engineering.
Valdas Adamkus was active in public and political life of the Lithuanian expatriate community. Between 1958 and 1965, he was vice-chairman of the Santara-Šviesa (Accord-Light) Cultural-Political Federation, a liberal civic organization of the Lithuanian expatriate community, acting under the slogan “Face to Lithuania “, and, in 1967, he was elected its chairman.
While living in the United States, Valdas Adamkus was an active organizer of protests against Lithuania ‘s occupation and the initiator of numerous petitions. Between 1961 and 1964, Adamkus was a member of the Board of the American-Lithuanian Community (LC), vice-chairman of the Centre Board, member of the American-Lithuanian Council (ALC).
Valdas Adamkus was an active participant and organiser of sports events. He won two gold and two silver medals in track-and-field events at the Olympic Games of the Enslaved Nations of 1948. In 1951, Valdas Adamkus established an academic sports club of Lithuanian Americans, called “Lituanica”. He was also a chairman of the Organizing Committee of the World Lithuanian Games that were held in 1983.
Since 1972, Valdas Adamkus had been visiting Lithuania once or several times a year. Encouraging and supporting construction of water treatment facilities and development of environmental monitoring, Valdas Adamkus assisted environmental institutions of the Baltic States with academic literature, equipment and software supply.
In 1998, Valdas Adamkus was elected President of the Republic of Lithuania. He assumed the office on February 26, 1998. President Adamkus promoted the idea of rapid modernisation of Lithuania and worked consistently towards its implementation.
On June 27, 2004, citizens of Lithuania re-elected Valdas Adamkus President of the Republic for another five-year term. During his second term, President of the Republic is committed to create European wellbeing in every Lithuanian home and to guarantee that there is not a single abandoned person in Lithuania.
In 2003, President Valdas Adamkus was conferred the title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Construction of Knowledge Societies. This title is held only by 42 individuals in the whole world, therefore, this honour shown to President Valdas Adamkus can certainly be viewed as the award to all the people of Lithuania.
With its own Goodwill Ambassador, Lithuania has now become even more visible among UNESCO member states.
In 1988, Valdas Adamkus was granted the International Environmental Award for outstanding achievements on the international arena. He has also been awarded the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold Medal, the US President’s Award for Outstanding Service and the International Olympic Committee Award.
Valdas Adamkus was named the European of the Year 2007 at the European Voice Awards. In 2008, he was conferred the title of academician of the Lithuanian Olympic Academy for many years of active involvement in the Olympic movement and the promotion of its ideals.
The President of Lithuania has been bestowed 35 highest-class state decorations of various countries, including the Golden Collar of the City of Athens, the Order of Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Scouts Union, the Order of Star of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and others.
Valdas Adamkus is also the Honorary Doctor of 21 different universities in Lithuania and other countries around the globe.