President Dalia Grybauskaitė has invited Ms Marija Elena Romeryte (Marisha Helena Romer in English) to the Presidential Palace in Vilnius on May 20. President Grybauskaitė will be presented with two original oils painted by Marisha’s grandmother, renowned Lithuanian artist Sofija Romeriene, whose life and works have been extensively documented and published. Some of her works, considered Lithuanian National Treasure, appear in the most prestigious museums of Lithuania, Poland as well as London.
Marisha H. Romer
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Ms Romer will be making a presentation to Madame President and giving a short speech paying tribute to her Lithuanian heritage, the influence of her adopted nations, and the achievements and inspiration of her ancestors, as well as her passion to return to Lithuania. Marisha is a direct descendent of the “father of Lithuania”, Grand Duke Gediminas and his son Algirdas (19 generations back).

The last time a Romer was received by a head of state in Vilnius was when Napoleon made Michal Jozef Romer the Mayor of Vilnius in 1812! On May 20th, his great great great granddaughter Marisha Romer will make a small moment of history as she carries on the family tradition of philanthropy. Her father, Andrzej Romeris was awarded the Order of Knight of Gediminas by President Adamkus, but the investiture took place in his Brussels home because of his age and health. Accordingly, the unveiling of these paintings by Marisha Romer in Vilnius will be the first time since Lithuanian independence in 1918 that a Romer has been received at the Presidential Palace by the Lithuanian head of state.

Andreas Romer, a dual USA and Lithuanian citizen, still speaks Lithuanian and has invested heavily in restoring national treasure since the restitution of independence in 1990. He was the 13th generation of the Romer family in Lithuania and the last to be born in Lithuania, making Marisha the 14th generation and her two children Gregory Stepanos Romeris and Sofija Elena Romeryte the 15th generation of Romeris family.

The return to Lithuania of the Romer family blends very well with a cause close to the heart of President Grybauskaitė. This, following her successful initiative launched in 2014 designed to encourage displaced persons as well as younger immigrants to return to Lithuania and enrich the intellectual and cultural resources of the country.

The Romer family has reclaimed its pre-war land holdings in Lithuania, and as the only Romers still residing in Europe, Andrzej Romer, his daughter Marisha and her two grown children Sophie and Gregory, are very committed to restoring the family property and investing resources into the Romer ancestral homeland.

Marisha’s grandmother, Sofija Romeriene was born 130 years ago this year, and is one of several noted Lithuanian artists of the Romer family. Sofija created the works being donated during the early 20th century. Sofija Romeriene was famously commissioned to paint a portrait of the Lithuanian poet Maironis (1862-1932) in 1924. He was so delighted with it that he wrote a poem in his own hand on the back of a sketch of the painting. Ms Romeryte will be reading this poem when she unveils the works she is donating back to the public of the Lithuanian nation.

These works were passed on to Marisha before 1990 by her father, Andreas Romer, now 95 years old, blind and non ambulatory. Mrs Romer feels some of her private collection of Sofija Romeriene works should be enjoyed by a wider audience in Lithuania to commemorate the 25 years since the restitution of independence.

Mrs Romer is married and has two children, they are dual USA and Lithuanian citizens residing in the UK. Now aged 50, she has had a successful career as a business woman, philanthropist and is President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce in the UK. Marisha hopes to follow in her family’s tradition of service to the Lithuanian nation, and is visiting Vilnius May 18-21 and again in July 2015 to tour Vilnius and the Romeris vault of graves at Trakai, the family lands in Cytowiany, Kelmė District, and to lecture and donate several works of art to Lithuanian Museums, the Mykolas Romeris University and the Presidential Palace.

Mrs Romer commented “I am hoping to embark on a new journey in my life, now my children are grown and I have sold my small business in the UK. I very much wish to devote more time to public service and contributing my skills and enthusiasm to support Polish and Lithuanian interests in some capacity. In the coming months, I will be exploring ways in which I can do this, and I am looking forward to introducing my two children to their Polish and Lithuanian heritage in July!”

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