February 5, 1914 - August 3, 2017
Dr. Agatha Sidlauskas (Agota Sidlauskaite ‘Doc’) was born on February 5, 1914, in Siauliai Lithuania, the seventh of the nine children of Morta Jespelkis and Jonas Sidlauskas. She completed all of her undergraduate and masters level studies in her home country at the University of Kaunas (MA Philosophy 1936). She then moved to Milan, Italy as a scholarship student, to begin her PhD programme in Psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. In June 1939,with just her PhD thesis to complete, she returned to Lithuania and was immediately caught up in the chaos that preceded the beginning of World War II. There were no jobs in her field so, by then fluent in Italian, she was hired by the Italian Embassy in Kaunas, which was then the capital of Lithuania. In 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the U.S.S.R and the roundup of Lithuanian intellectuals, which continued almost unabated until the 1970’s, made it very dangerous for her to remain in her homeland. With the help of the Italian ambassador she was able to escape Lithuania in August 1940 and return to Italy. She did not set foot on her native soil again or see any members of her family until 1970.
In 1943 Doc was awarded her PhD in Child Psychology in Milan. She remained in Italy teaching at the university until 1948 when she immigrated to Canada as a ‘Displaced Person’. She worked in Montreal as a domestic for two years, spent one year as an Honorary Fellow at the University of Minnesota and, in 1951, she accepted a full time position at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology. She remained on the teaching staff at the School until her retirement in 1979, mentoring and directing the theses of MA and PhD candidates in Child Psychology.
In addition to her teaching and administrative responsibilities at the School of Psychology, in 1958 Dr. Sidlauskas founded the University of Ottawa Child Study Centre. She remained Director of the Centre until her retirement from the university in 1979.
After her retirement, she held the positions of Clinical Director of the ‘Canadian Association of Learning Through Listening’ in Aurora, Ontario and also Consultant Psychologist to Toronto Montessori School and Montcrest School in Toronto.
In 1981 Dr. Sidlauskas founded Venta Preparatory School. She was Principal of the school until 1993. The 50 acre rural property in Carp, Ontario that she had purchased in 1958 and developed into a summer camp for the University of Ottawa Child Study Centre, was renovated and became what is now Venta. The independent school is a Charitable Organization offering both boarding and day programmes for children from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 10. Dr. Sidlauskas remained an active member of the school’s Board of Directors until shortly before her death.
Visitation will be held at her home on the grounds of the school, 2013 Old Carp Road, Carp, Ontario on Monday, August 14, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. and Tuesday, August 15 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Isidore Roman Catholic Church, 1135 March Road, Kanata on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm. Burial to follow in the parish cemetery.