Mati Koiva, 84, of Glastonbury, passed away peacefully on May 4th, 2020. Born on February 3, 1936 in Karksi, Estonia, he was the son of the late Hans and Anna (Univer) Koiva. As a young boy, he and his family fled the Soviet communist occupation of Estonia and lived for five years in various refugee camps in Germany. His family emigrated to the United States in 1949, settling originally in Virginia and then in Willimantic, CT and the surrounding area. He was a 1956 graduate of Windham High School, 1960 graduate of UConn (BS in Engineering) and 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. However, 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. He was a representative on the Estonian American National Council (EANC) for over forty years and served as EANC president from 1996-2006. He met with U.S. Presidents and elected officials in Washington, D.C. to bring attention to political challenges and successes facing Estonia along with colleagues from the Latvian and Lithuanian American communities. In 1998, the President of the Republic of Estonia awarded him the Order of the White Star, III class. In Estonia’s Presidential registry, he is listed as “Freedom Fighter”. Mati 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 predeceased by his wife, Maila Koiva, and brothers Arnold of Estonia, Johan of Glastonbury, and Enn of Columbia. A memorial service will be held later in the future. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mati’s memory can be made to the Connecticut Estonian Society (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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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