Janis (John) Skujins of Minneapolis, MN died peacefully, Thursday, January 30, 2020, at the age of 79. Born July 11, 1940 in Plavinas, Latvia, he leaves behind wife Guna Kalmite Skujina, daughter Maruta Skujina (Matt Hutchins), son Peteris Skujins (Sara Garry), son Janis Paulis Skujins (Katie Skujina), and his beloved grandchildren: Francis Garry-Skujins, Peteris Skujins, Ieva Hutchins, Milo Garry-Skujins and Beatrix Skujina. Janis was blessed with a large extended family including niece Karina (Arsts) Kirsteins (Aldis, Magnuss, Raivis) and nephew Andrejs Arsts (Michelle) and a wealth of family in Latvia.
At the time of his birth Latvia was engulfed in World War II. In 1944, his family (mother and sister) fled the war in Latvia and arrived in a Displaced Persons Camp—Valka Camp near Nurenberg, Germany. They lived there from 1944 until they immigrated to the USA in 1950. (Janis would later entertain his grandchildren with stories of the ‘toys’ and adventures he had as a young child in the camp.) His family first settled in Washington, IA and moved to Minneapolis, MN in 1956.
In 1967, Janis earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. This accomplishment set the foundation for one of his most defining experiences—a solo trip around the globe. He began his adventure in August 1967, in Germany in a VW bus and traveled through Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand, Pakistan, India and Burma, and then on to Laos, Cambodia, Borneo, Indonesia, Australia, and New Guinea. He returned home Christmas 1969. Once resettled in Minneapolis, Janis and Guna married in 1970.
An early adopter of environmentally driven architecture, Janis launched his own firm in 1973. He received wide recognition and awards for architectural solar housing work in the early eighties. As he matured in his career Janis balanced project-work and teaching. As an educator at Dunwoody College he travelled to China, reigniting his interest in travel.
Janis was an integral part of the regional Latvian-American community. He was a long time member of the Latvian Lutheran Church choir, Latvian folk ensemble Teiksma, Latvian Veterans organization Daugavas Vanagi, and the Latvian student fraternity Patria. Janis also shared his talents in Latvian theatrical productions—from building sets to participating as a cast member.
Since retirement, Janis enjoyed life as an active grandfather to his five grandkids. Janis will be remembered for his beautiful bass voice, dynamic storytelling, and his resounding laughter. He is preceded in death by father Peteris Skujins, mother Elizabete Lanis nee Vilsons, sister Mara Arsts nee Skujina and step-father Valdis Lanis. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the: Latvian Lutheran Church – Minneapolis, 3152 17th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2 PM, Latvian Lutheran Church – Minneapolis.