STEMPUZIS, JOSEPH (24 June 1921-24 April 1992) was a leader in the cultural and political affairs of Cleveland's Lithuanian-American community. A native of Kaisiadorys, Lithuania, he graduated from the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute in 1944 and was a family friend of Vytautas Landsbergis, who would become Lithuania's first president after independence. Stempuzis participated in both the anti-Nazi and the anti-Soviet resistance movements before escaping to the West in 1945. He toured Europe with the CIURLIONIS LITHUANIAN NATIONAL ART ENSEMBLE, marrying fellow member Aldona Butkis in Germany in 1948. They came with the ensemble when it made Cleveland its headquarters in 1949 and were both naturalized here in 1956.

Aldona Stempuzis pursued a career in music, touring in the U.S. and Europe in between raising 2 sons and maintaining a home. A contralto, she made her Cleveland recital debut in 1967 and taught at the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT. Joseph Stempuzis became head of the personal property tax dept. in the Cuyahoga County auditor's office and active in the affairs of Cleveland LITHUANIANS. Having produced and announced the Lithuanian Voice radio program since 1949, he became a founder and chairman of the Nationalities Broadcasters Assoc. He was also a board member of the Lithuanian Village, which played a major role in the construction of the Lithuanian American Community Ctr. in 1973. A member of the GREATER CLEVELAND ROUNDTABLE, he worked with Mayor Ralph J. Perk to organize the American Nationalities Mvt.

Dying at his SOUTH EUCLID home, he was survived by his wife and sons, Almis and Linas.

Joseph Stempuzis Papers, WRHS.

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