Nina Rozenieks Podnieks Eglitis

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nina Rozenieks Podnieks Eglitis, DDS, 96, died after a brief illness on Oct. 1, 2016, surrounded by the love and prayers of her family. Dr. Eglitis practiced dentistry for more than 40 years in her office in Falls Church, and for several years before that in Germany and Latvia.

Born in Vladivostok, Siberia, on Aug. 31, 1920 to parents Anna Julija Estere Rozenieks and Konstantins Jagodkin, Dr. Eglitis grew up in Riga, Latvia, spending her summers at her grandfather’s estate “Pokrata” in the south of Latvia. Before the age of 2, Dr. Eglitis was already well traveled, having visited Japan and the USA. In her teenage years, she represented her high school and country on an international gymnastics tour, performing in front of, and later being introduced to, the King of Sweden.

In August 1944, Dr. Eglitis was forced to flee her homeland, her first husband captured by the Soviets and her uncle executed by them. Her brother was also captured and deported to a Siberian labor camp. For two years she lived in a displaced persons camp in Fischbach, Germany, before being sponsored to emigrate to America where she met and married her second husband, Romans Eglitis, another Latvian refugee. Despite her college and dental degrees, for the first several years in the U.S., Dr. Eglitis worked as a cleaning woman for 45 cents per hour, as a nanny, and later as a clerk in a bookstore. Despite these setbacks, she was able to successfully sponsor and repatriate her parents, sister-in-law, and several other family members to the United States.

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Dr. Eglitis earned her first Doctorate of Dental Surgery at the University of Latvija, and after World War II she had to re-study to obtain her American credentials. She was one of three women out of 93 students in the University of Pittsburgh Dental School graduating class of 1951. Dr. Eglitis was the first female dentist in Virginia, beginning her practice with the Commonwealth of Virginia Indigent Dental Care Unit serving the Women’s Penitentiary and indigents in Dinwiddie and Appomattox counties and the city of Petersburg. During the Korean War, she was asked to take over the Alexandria practice of a colleague called to the front lines, and upon his return opened her solo practice in Falls Church, where she served her patients until her retirement in 1994. She also served on the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Georgetown as adjunct professor of endodontics. She was a member of numerous professional organizations, and a member of the Latvian Sorority Dzintra. She was well traveled and spoke seven languages.

Dr. Eglitis was most proud of the fact that hers was a family of dentists and dental professionals: her mother, her mother’s sister, her cousin, his wife, her sister-in-law, and relatives in both her daughter and son-in-law’s family practiced dentistry.

Dr. Eglitis and her husband retired to Kitty Hawk and, until her sudden illness, lived independently at her home with her two dogs, Puika and Kelly, and care companion, Derek L. Hopkins. She served for several years as a volunteer for the Outer Banks Community Foundation, and for Dare County Emergency Service

Left behind to cherish her memory are her son, Dr. Martin A. Eglitis, daughter-in-law, Dr. Beth J. Hoffman, and grandson Sandris, all of San Diego; her daughter, Inga A. Francis Esq., and son-in-law, Richard Lincoln Francis Esq., both of Boykins; and granddaughter, Kersti, of Los Angeles, Calif.; her niece, Inguna Ozolina, of Riga, Latvija; great-nephew, Maris Rozenieks; great-nieces, Linda and Laura Rozenieks, Gunda Laizane and Santa Ozolina, all of Riga; Juris Abolins, of Manteo, N.C., her family-in-love, Mark and Teri Tillett, daughters, Gray and Courtney, and son, Bill, of Kitty Hawk, and goddaughter, Silvija Paza, of Vashon Island, Wash. Dr. Eglitis was predeceased by her husband, Romans Eglitis, and brother, Konstantins Rozenieks.

The family would like to especially thank Dr. Michael L. Smith and staff, as well as Tom McGrady of Sunshine Family Pharmacy, in Duck for their care and compassion all these years, the Kitty Hawk Fire and Rescue Department for their rescues many times over, her friend and dog walker, Dana DiGiorgio of Beach Bum Pets, her neighbor, Perry Byrum, and her friends Diane Byrum and Evelyn Holloway — all of you made it possible for her to live out her life in her own home in love, comfort and dignity to the end. We cannot thank you enough.

A memorial service will be held Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, at 1 p.m. at her home, 4172 Thick Ridge Road, Kitty Hawk. In the event of inclement weather, the service will be held at St. Andrews-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Nags Head, in the chapel, at 1 p.m. Officiants will be the Very Rev. Anita Varsbergs-Paza and the Rev. L. Raymond McGarr. The graveside service will be on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m. at Beechwood cemetery in Boykins, with the Rev. James W. Browder, officiant.

The family asks that memorial donations be made to: Kitty Hawk Fire Department Association, P.O.B. 207, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949.

Wright Funeral Home, of Franklin, is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be extended at