In Memoriam: STSCA Founder Professor Ilse Cirtautas

We are deeply saddened to share with you the loss of our Founder Emeritus and long-time Vice-President, Professor Ilse Cirtautas. Professor Cirtautas, known to many in the Uzbek community as “Ilse-opa”, was instrumental in the founding of the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association, and was a fierce advocate for Uzbek-language studies and exchanges during her many years of teaching at the University of Washington.

Professor Cirtautas first traveled to Tashkent in May 1972 to do research at the Academy of Sciences, where she surprised the Uzbeks with her familiarity with the Uzbek language and customs. While in Tashkent, she met with the deputy director of the Uzbek Friendship Society, with whom she discussed the possibility of establishing a sister-city relationship. After her return to Seattle, Professor Cirtautas learned that in November of that year Tashkent had accepted Seattle as its sister city. She met with Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman, who asked her to serve as the first member of the Seattle-Tashkent sister-city committee.

She returned to Tashkent many times over the years, both as a representative of the committee and to support academic exchanges and library institutions. She passionately promoted the use of the Uzbek language, brought numerous Uzbek scholars to the University of Washington, and founded a scholarship program for UW students to study in Tashkent. 

Ilse-opa will be deeply missed, but her legacy will live on through the continued work of the STSCA and the many, many people, both in Seattle and in Tashkent, whose lives she touched!