Last Sunday night, at Frank Campbell Funeral Home, Dr. Agim Leka reposed amid white standing sprays, floral wreaths and photographs capturing moments of a life well-lived. Tucked in gently, next to his right side, there were two genuine notes handwritten by his grandchildren. All gathered represented the first, second and third generation Albanian-Americans and all felt connected to one another because he connected with all of us. Relatives, friends, colleagues, community representatives and a senior level delegation of Vatra led by Vice Chairman, Agim Rexhaj, paid their respects to the sons, Donald and Drin, their families and the extended lineage of the Leka house.
“Dr. Leka is the last member of the Mukje Conference,” said Pertefe Leka, referring to the historic meeting of 1943 that aimed to unify the Albanian political spectrum against the fascists in 1943 and lay the initial groundwork for Ethnic Albanian state. Here history is not found in a book, the references and the events are tied to the Leka’s as far back as the dawn of the modern state of Albania in 1912. In a few moments, the proud and devoted member of the Leka family, Pertefe has produced a print out of an article written by Dr. Agim Leka in November of 2000. His notes describe how at the age of 18, he had translated in Italian the response of Dom Nikolle Mazreku defending the Albanian nation from the racist insults by father Fulvio Cordignano. Indeed it is fitting to bring this particular moment to light, since, in his own words Dr. Leka states that it was “the spark that resurrected my national feelings and reinforced my conviction that I was to carry on the family’s tradition of peaceful Albanian nationalism…” A teary eyed woman dressed in black kneeled by the casket. Holding back tears, she said that the Albanian-American Medical Society (AAMS) owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Leka. In 2011, the organization honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Harvard Club. The emotional co-founder of AAMS, Dr. Lindita Çoku, revealed that her estimeed colleague was indiscriminate in landing a helping hand. “It didn’t matter to him,” she said, ” the family background, political affiliations or party preferences. As members of the medical profession in this country, they were equally deserving of his help.” Dr. Leka was passionate about his career and his professional duties. His life’s passion made him a beacon of humanity because he followed the Hippocratic Oath inside the hospital halls, and answered the higher call of his conscience to uphold the patriotic tradition of his ancestors in Albania.
A philanthropic and pioneering doctor with an exemplary passion for history and love for his country.
Dr. Leka was inspired by the highest principles of humanity and we are inspired by him.
(Rafaela Prifti -Dielli, English Language Editor )