Dr. Gjon Lekë Buçaj, a tireless and a visionary activist for Albanian causes, passed away on Saturday morning (May 14, 2022) at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, Virginia. He was 88 years old.
Beloved husband of 48 years to Nikoleta. Loving father of Eduard Bucaj and his wife Dana of Sterling, Virginia, Lek Buçaj and his wife Frances of Alexandria, Virginia, and Teuta (Buçaj) Pici and her husband Marketin Pici of Baltimore, Maryland, Nora (Buçaj) Daub and her husband Timothy Daub of Baltimore, Maryland. Proud grandfather of seven (7) grandchildren (Besa, Leka, Shpresa, Delena, Iliriana, Gjozefina, and Gjoni); beloved brother of Mrika Dedaj of Monroe, New York and Drande Berisha of White Plains, New York. He was predeceased by his father Lek Zogu, mother Sute (Lula) Pjetra, and brother Gjin Leka.
He was Born in Arst, Pukë, Albania on February 14 1934. When the communist authorities took over Albania, thousands of families were rounded up and sent to concentration camps and hundreds of intellectuals were executed. Dr. Buçaj and his family escaped from Albania in 1951, crossing the border into the former Yugoslavia. He studied in Gjakova, Prishtina, and in Shkup (Macedonia). During his stay in the former Yugoslavia, he connected with Albanian freedom fighters who had settled in Italy at the end WWII. The UDBA (Yugoslav State Security Service) informants monitored his activities and considered him to be dangerous. He managed to go to Italy in 1965. While in Rome, Dr. Buçaj studied medicine and helped thousands of Albanian immigrants who were living in refugee camps. He joined Bloku Kombtar Indipendent (BKI), an Albanian political party in exile, whose political platform was based on two core goals: "to utilize all measures to free Albania from communism and to pursue every opportunity to enable the Albanian people to acquire the independence necessary to freely choose their own future." As a member of BKI, he worked closely with Prof. Ernest Koliqi, who is considered as the founder of modern Albanian prose.
In 1974, Dr. Buçaj moved to the United States, where he continued his activities in alignment with BKI's goals. He joined the Pan-Albanian Federation of America, Vatra, serving as Vice President for nearly two decades which was a critical moment for the Albanian nation. During this time, the communist system in Albania collapsed and Kosova gained its independence. Dr. Buçaj was active in organizing seminars and protests in defense of the Albanians in Kosova, Chamëria, Montenegro, and Macedonia. He served as Vatra's president from (2010-2017).