Ona Zukas Norkus

Sept. 30, 1928 – Dec. 20, 2018

Ona Zukas Norkus passed away peacefully on Thursday, Dec. 20 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 90.

Ona was born in Lithuania on Sept. 30, 1928 to Ona and Juozas Juodišius. During World War II, when she was only 14, she had to flee her native country and spent six years in displaced persons camps in Germany. She was able to finally come to the United States in 1949, along with her father and brother, and they settled in Brooklyn, New York.

A year later, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio with her father and, in 1951, she married Jonas Zukas. They had three children: Rimantas, Irene and Julius. Ten years later the family moved west to Los Angeles to avoid the cold winters. In 1966 they purchased Prairie Playland, a preschool in Hawthorne. Jonas began remodeling the school while Ona served as the cook and took courses in child development.

The couple decided they wanted to expand their preschool business and chose a location in Glendale that previously was home to an A&W Root Beer stand.

Construction was soon underway and in August 1972 Glendale Preschool & Kindergarten opened its doors to the community. Sadly, only a year later, Jonas passed away from liver and pancreatic cancer leaving Ona with the task of running the school on her own. She served as director for nine years until she retired in 1982 with her daughter Irene becoming the new director.

Ona married Ceslovas Norkus in 1986 and enjoyed retirement with him until his death in 1999.

Throughout her life, she remained a devout Catholic who loved nature and poetry and had a strong sense of pride for Lithuania.

Ona was preceded in death by her parents, three brothers, first husband Jonas Zukas and second husband Ceslovas Norkus. She is survived by three children: Rimantas Zukas, Irene Zukas Bracci (husband Dana), and Julius Zukas (wife Rita); and five granddaughters: Mikalina Celani, Kristina Celani, Ariana Zukas, Sofija Zukas, and Melanija Zukas.

Funeral services for Ona were held at St. Casimir’s Lithuanian Catholic Church on Wednesday, Dec. 26. In lieu of flowers, Ona’s family requests that donations be made to the Daughters of Lithuania – Los Angeles Chapter: www.daughtersoflithuaniala.org.

Funeral Directors: www.CrippenMortuary.com