470 Massachusetts Avenue, Acton MA 01720


Valdis G. Smits

Valdis G. Smits

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
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Life Story

Valdis George Smits ,74, of Acton, MA, passed away in his home on April 15th, 2020.

Valdis was born in a World War II refugee camp in Apolda, Germany in 1945. His parents, escaping Soviet occupation of Latvia, lived in refugee camps for several years before emigrating to the United States in 1949, and settling in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He earned his Bachelor of Design in Architecture at the University of Minnesota, and received his Master in Architecture from M.I.T.

Valdis was a distinguished Rotch Scholar, and had a successful and acclaimed career spanning over 40 years. He worked for several Boston design firms; but primarily his own business, Smits Associates Architects, before retiring.

He was a life-long BMW motorcycle loyalist, and loved nothing more than taking long rides on his “scooter.” If the bike wasn’t an option, Valdis enjoyed photography and had a wicked arm for table tennis. Taking trips to Gloucester, Rockport or Ogunquit for a look at the ocean and a bite of the perfect lobster roll were where he felt most at peace.

“Papa” or “The Bear” was the grandfather to four grandchildren who absolutely adored him: Livija Samaraweera, Harrison Tiplady, Davis Tiplady and Wilson Tiplady.

Valdis is survived by his wife, Brigita Smits; his daughters and their husbands, Maija and Nathaniel Tiplady, and Lisa and Piyum Samaraweera; and his sister and her husband Anita Smits and Scott Lichty.

Should friends desire, in memory of Valdis, please send donations to the Marginal Way Preservation Fund:

Memorial page actonfuneral.com

Marginal Way Preservation Fund

P.O. Box 1455

Ogunquit, Maine 03907
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Private Condolence

Bill Mantis

Posted at 01:50pm
I grew up about five blocks away from Valdis in St. Paul. We played on the same baseball teams through grade school and high school. He was my favorite chess rival in the neighborhood. I regret losing touch with Valdis after high school graduation, given that I never met a more good-hearted, good-humored person in the years since.
I received occasional second-hand reports of Valdi’s accomplishments Out East, and always vowed to myself that I would look him up when I was in the Boston area. I deeply regret that I didn’t keep that vow.
My sincere condolences to Valdis’s family and friends. I’m sure his passing is a great loss.


Gregory Page

Posted at 12:00am
After college, I coach a girls softball team in the summers. One day Valdi came by the field, looking worn out, sleepless, and dazed. He was working on his architectural thesis, probably 20 hours a day, and was taking a walk outside to refresh himself. For the next week he’d always take a break from his thesis project (a Latviyan community center) during softball practice and help out. I had the honor of attending his thesis critique by a jury lead by the college dean, Ralph Rapson. After Valdi was done with his presentation, Rapson asked the jurists for their criticisms (This is the time strong men wilt as jurists jab away at their presentation) , but after 20 or 30 seconds of dead silence, Rapson turned to Valdi and said , “You better get out of here while the getting is good.” Not one of the jurists could think of anything to poke at or suggest an improvement. Never ever heard of that happening before or since.

I had the honor and joy of proceeding Valdi and Brigi down the aisle for their wedding - And, during the service, watching him take an unplanned kneel down to avoid fainting.

Visiting with Valdi and Brigi whenever I got to Boston, which was infrequently, was always the warmest joy. The last time I visited, I only gave one hour’s notice, but we still managed to get together for a wonderful dinner- and crab cakes

And as much as I miss Valdi, I am overwhelmed with loving memories
Gregory Page

Tom Thorstenson

Posted at 09:17pm
Valdis and I first became friends in St Paul in 1949. His mom made the best pirogs you could imagine! We played ping pong until exhausted, dripping from sweat after playing in his St Paul home on Eustis St. We were at the U of M at the same time - he in architecture, me in engineering. Took a canoe trip to the boundary waters our freshman year. Haven't seen much of each other since college, but we were sure good friends in our childhood/early years. My sincere condolences to his wife and family. - Tom Thorstenson

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