Patrons Antra, Bertrams and Kristaps Zariņš from the USA have established a memorial foundation for their father Richards Zariņš to support history studies at the University of Latvia.

Richards Arturs Oto Zariņš (1913–2006) was born on 6 December 1913 in Vireši, Gaujiena Parish, in the family of a farmer, post office and car station manager. After graduating from Augšgauja Primary School and Gaujiena Gymnasium, he entered the University of Latvia Faculty of Theology in the autumn of 1931. As early as in his school years, his socially active character was clearly pronounced, and he became involved in the Scout movement, as well as in the activities of the local education association, after which he became a member of the Latvian Farmers' Union. From 1932, Richards Zariņš was an enthusiastic member the student corporation Lettonia, continuing his contribution to this organisation throughout his life and holding many responsible positions. At the same time, he served on the University of Latvia Student Council, sang in the Presidium Convent Male Choir, and was the head of the Student Union of the Faculty of Theology. In order to obtain funds for studies, he worked as a secretary in Mārtiņš parish, Riga.

In September 1938, R. Zariņš graduated and was ordained a pastor, and in October he was appointed to the parish of the Riga Dome Church, remaining in this position until he had to leave his homeland. At the same time, he worked as a teacher of religion at the Augusta Deglava Primary School (No. 15) in Riga, and from September 1939 at the Riga State Gymnasium No. 1. He was a liturgist of radio-transmitted services, in 1940 he served on the editorial board of Latvian evangelical Lutheran newspaper Svētdienas Rīts. He has also worked at the Latvian-Lithuanian unit, the Academic Section of the Latvian-Czechoslovak Society.

His extensive work was disrupted by the occupation of the country, during which the young pastor witnessed the suffering of many church members and relatives, including arrests and deportations (after the outset of the war, on 28 June 1941, the fleeing Red Army in Gaujiena parish killed his brother Zigurds, born in 1920).

During the German occupation, from 1941, he resumed his work as a teacher of religious studies at the Riga City Gymnasium No. 6, and from 1942, at the Riga State Gymnasium No. 1. In 1942–1944 he was the editor of the church newspaper Baznīcas Ziņas. He also acted as the liturgist of Riga radio-transmitted services.

In October 1944, he secretly went to Sweden as a refugee from the coast of Kurzeme with his family. He went on to work as a school librarian, a Latvian pastor and a teacher of religion in West Mandal. From February 1946, he served as the Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Board in the Southern Region of Sweden, also providing spiritual care to Latvian refugees in Denmark.

In July 1946, he was invited to become a pastor of the Latvian Congregation in New York and in November 1946 he moved to the United States, holding this position until his retirement in 1989. The Latvian congregation in New York, which, like other exile congregations, in addition to its religious functions also was the centre of socio-political life, was one of the largest in the world, and its leader was directly involved in all events and activities related to the congregation, and its headquarters were abode of the pastor’s family for almost half a century.

Symbolically, R. Zariņš arrived in New York on 18 November 1946, and in the following years personally welcomed ships with emigrants from Latvia to provide them with all possible support, but in the following decades – lead the spiritual life of members of the large congregation, documenting it in detail and storing the records in the personal archive at the parish chancellery (in 2012, R. Zariņš's archive was transferred to the library of Stanford University and in the summer of 2019 doctoral student I. Didrihsone-Tomaševska began studies of these records with support of the Memorial Foundation). R. Zariņš's organizational abilities and popularity safeguarded the unity of the large New York congregation, while other congregations in exile were torn by discord and at times dissolved. The congregation consisted of five regions, owned a number of real estate units, and its social and cultural activities were extremely extensive and versatile.

In parallel with his direct work, R. Zariņš wrote in exile periodicals on social, political, historical, religious issues, was a collaborator of the church newspaper Ceļa Biedris, and the editor of the congregation's periodical Baznīcas Ziņas.

1990–1991 R. Zariņš and the Latvian community in exile celebrated the restoration of Latvia 's independence, which was truly a dream come true. After Latvia regained its independence, R. Zariņš visited his homeland several times, enjoying particularly positive experiences. In 2001, the state of Latvia honoured his dedicated and outstanding work by awarding him the Order of the Three Stars. Richards Zariņš passed away on 31 May 2006 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

Very early, during his studies in 1936, R. Zariņš married Marija Rozenberga (1910–1996), and the marriage was blessed with four children – Antra, Bertrams, Kristaps and Pēteris (1947–2004). Typically for Latvian families in exile, the purposeful upbringing and the diligence of the children themselves enabled Richards and Marija to move up the educational ladder, successfully building careers and at the same time actively participating in the public life of Latvian community in exile.

It is the children of Richard Zariņš – Antra, Bertrams and Kristaps, who have created a foundation in memory of their father, providing support to the historians of the University of Latvia in their studies of Latvian history. It is especially important in the circumstances when the situation of research and education of history in Latvia is arduous and the state financial support to researchers and lecturers is insignificant. The foundation was established to support history studies, despite the fact that the professional activities of all its founders are related to another field – medicine. The reason for this dedication is recognition of importance pertaining to historical matters in the life of the Latvian state and society – this recognition is ever-present in the exile society in general and in the Zariņi family in particular.

Bacteriologist Antra Zariņa-Thrasher (born in 1941, Riga) earned her bachelor's degree in microbiology from the City College of New York in 1962 and after three years, a master's degree in environmental sciences from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and then commenced work at various scientific laboratories in New York (the Rockefeller University, Downstead Medical Center, etc.), moving to Boston in 1971, where she contributed to studies of osteoarthritis at Massachusetts General Hospital. After starting a family in the mid-1970s, she worked in a travel agency. Currently she dedicates her time to music, playing in an amateur orchestra.

Doctors – orthopedic surgeon and sports doctor Bertrams Zariņš (born in 1942, Riga) and vascular surgeon Kristaps Zariņš (born in 1943, Tukums) have gained worldwide recognition among the specialists in their respective fields.

Bertrams Zariņš graduated with honors from the State University of New York, Medical School, Syracuse in 1967 with a medical doctorate (MD), followed by a surgeon's residency at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, specializing in orthopedics in Boston from 1970. Since 1976, he has worked in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, becoming a full professor in 2007. He is the chief physician of The New England Patriots, the National Football League team, has also served as the chief physician of the Boston Bruins, the National Hockey League team, and has served as a head physician for the US Olympic team for 12 years, taking care of the US team for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. He is on the editorial boards of dozens of scientific journals, a board member of many international professional organizations, and Honorary President of the Spanish Arthroscopy Association. He is also a foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and an independent expert of the Latvian Council of Science. He was awarded the Order of the Three Stars of Latvia in acknowledgment of his merit.

Kristaps Zariņš received his doctoral degree in 1968 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and then continued with a surgical residency at the University of Michigan Hospital and research at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. 1974–1976 was dedicated to military service as a Navy officer at the Regional Medical Center in San Diego. From 1976 he was associated with the University of Chicago, and from 1993 with the Stanford University Medical Center, where he held senior administrative positions. He is a professor of vascular surgery since 1982, and Professor Emeritus since 2010. For an extensive period of time, he has been the head of the Atherosclerosis and Circulatory Research Laboratory, a surgeon in more than 10 other medical centers in various cities. Member of the editorial boards of more than 20 professional journals in the United States and other countries, editor, active member of more than 30 professional organizations in the United States, Latvia and elsewhere. Author of many books, more than 350 articles, 130 book chapters. He was decorated with the Order of the Three Stars of Latvia and the Gold Medal of the Latvian Academy of Sciences.

Bertrams and Kristaps Zariņi have incessantly supported Latvian medicine by various means – extended their support to doctors and students (among other things, they were the initiators of the first World Congress of Latvian Doctors in 1989) with scholarships, as well as established the training opportunities at the best US medical centers. Together with their sister Antra, they have also provided a significant support for development of Latvian science of history. They consider maintaining Latvianness and supporting their homeland to be a natural and honourable duty. This, too, clearly is the merit of their father – Richards Zariņš, whose memory is now honored through assistance extended to Latvian historians.

The Foundation's programme started in September 2013 and in the first year of operation it disbursed a scholarship for writing of the master's thesis "Latvian Army War Hospitals during the War of Independence in 1919–1920" awarded to Inna Gīle, a student of the Faculty of History and Philosophy, support for preparation of publications to doctoral student Ineta Didrihsone-Tomaševska, lecturers Ēriks Jēkabsons and Harijs Tumans, as well as scientists received support to attend several international conferences.

An article on research in the USA prepared by the University of Latvia Faculty of History and Philosophy doctoral student I. Didrihsone-Tomaševska is available here in Latvian language.  

Author of the article: University of Latvia Professor Ēriks Jēkabsons.

We greatly appreciate the generous support to education and development!