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Mati Kõiva, a former president of the Estonian American National Council (EANC), and of JBANC, passed away on May 4, 2020 at the age of 84 in Connecticut.


He was a representative of EANC for over forty years and served as EANC president from 1996 – 2006.

 

During that time, he served as JBANC president for three terms.

 

This period was critical as it intersected with the campaign of NATO enlargement, and together with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts, Kõiva’s efforts helped pave the way towards eventual NATO membership for the Baltic countries in 2004.

 

On November 5, 1997, Kõiva testified on behalf of JBANC at a hearing for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to highlight Baltic-American support for NATO enlargement.


Kõiva also served in the leadership of the Estonian World Council for twelve years and was chairman of The Nordic Press for four years.

 

He also helped to build and support the State Partnership relationship between the Maryland National Guard and Estonian Kaitseliit (Estonian Defense League).


Mati Kõiva was born in Karksi, Estonia on February 3, 1936, and as a young boy he and his family fled the Soviet communist occupation of Estonia.

 

After five years at displaced persons camps in Germany, the family emigrated to the United States in 1949, settling eventually in Connecticut.


A 1960 graduate of UConn (BS in Engineering), he earned his Master of General Administration from the University of Maryland in 1988.

 

He served in the U.S. Army Reserves and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

 

He worked as the Deputy Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles in the early 1970’s before moving on to the National Safety Council in Chicago, and then to Maryland’s Department of Transportation as Administrator of Motor Vehicles.


The freedom of his homeland Estonia from Soviet occupation and the strengthening of the Estonian American community in the U.S. were always close to his heart.

 

He was a founding member of Connecticut’s Estonian scout troop, President of the Connecticut Estonian Society, and held similar leadership roles in the Chicago and Maryland Estonian American communities.

 

In 1998, the President of the Republic of Estonia awarded him the Order of the White Star, III class.


Mati Kõiva leaves his daughter, Laine Kingo, of Columbia; two grandchildren, Hendrik and Angelika; stepdaughter Tiina Auksi-Butler and family of Missouri, and stepson Allan Auksi of Illinois.

 

He also leaves several nephews and cousins along with their families in the United States and Estonia.

 

He was preceded in death by his wife, Maila Kõiva, and brothers Arnold of Estonia, Johan of Glastonbury, and Enn of Columbia.

 

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mati Kõiva’s memory can be made to the Connecticut Estonian Society ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), The Nordic Press – publisher of the weekly Estonian newspaper in the U.S. (www.vabaeestisona.com), or the Estonian American National Council (www.estosite.org).

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