Cover photo for Irma (Kalnejais)  Aivars's Obituary
Irma (Kalnejais)  Aivars Profile Photo
1926 Irma 2023

Irma (Kalnejais) Aivars

March 18, 1926 — February 21, 2023

Irma Aivars passed away Tuesday, February 21, 2023, in Richland, MI. She was born March 18, 1926, in Daugavpils, Latvia the daughter of the late Peteris and Caroline (Jakobsons) Kalnejais.

Irma’s childhood was spent in Latvia by the Baltic Sea, and she recounted those as happy and joyful times. However, in 1944 she was forced to flee the country she loved as the Russians invaded Latvia during World War II. She fled to nearby Germany where 2 of her 4 children would be born. In 1949 she emigrated from Germany via a boat for the United States. She would eventually call Michigan her home.

Life in the United States was not an easy transition for her. In addition to learning English by listening to the radio, Irma worked various jobs including cleaning homes, in the lab at a local pop bottling company, and finally as a nurse's aide at a nursing home. She worked these jobs while raising her four sons and keeping a well-cleaned home.

Family was always important to Irma. In retirement, she would babysit her 5 grandchildren on a rotating basis. Family gatherings and meals were a special time. Those who attended these gatherings and celebrations were spoiled with her generous and delicious food and baked goods that included tortes, piragi, and piparkukas.

Her faith was important to her, as she was a life-long member of the Lutheran church, both the Latvian and American Lutheran churches.

She is remembered for her fiery and sassy personality, quick wit, sense of humor, sharp mind, and always speaking her mind, even when the truth was hard to hear. She enjoyed listening to opera, reading, crocheting socks and blankets, and gardening.

On August 12, 1944, Irma married John Zands who preceded her in death on 1971. She was also preceded in death by a son, Peter Aivars and daughter-in-law, Carol Aivars. Irma is survived by her sons, John Aivars, Paul (Kathy) Aivars, and Martin Aivars; daughter-in-law, Nora Aivars; grandchildren Alex Aivars, Daina (Tim) Graves, Ilze (Damien) Villeneuve, Peteris Aivars, Jr., and Bailey Aivars; and great-grandchildren, Owen, Mason, Kaija, and Kalvis.

Cremation has taken place. Family and friends are welcome to attend a celebration of life service, which will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 504 S. Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, at 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 25, 2023. A reception and time to share memories of Irma will follow immediately after the service. Arrangements entrusted to Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 622 S. Burdick St, Kalamazoo MI 49007. To view Irma’s personalized web page, please visit

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Irma (Kalnejais) Aivars, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Trinity Lutheran Church (Kalamazoo)

504 South Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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