On early Sunday morning, November 1st, 2020, Sripati Bhattacharyya passed away at his long-time residence in Walnut Creek. Mr. Bhattacharyya is survived by his devoted wife, Shila Bhattacharyya, his daughters Sujana and Debika Bhattacharyya, his son-in-law Piyush Bhargava, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews.
Mr. Bhattacharyya was born in Calcutta, India, in the pre-Partition era, to Jibesh and Niharnalini Bhattacharyya. He grew up in Chandannagar, a Calcutta suburb, with his 3 brothers and 4 sisters. He received his Electrical Engineering degree from Bengal Engineering College in 1963, and went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Control Systems Engineering at Salford University in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Although born under impoverished circumstances, Mr. Bhattacharyya possessed a strong character, sense of duty, and intelligence that always drove him to strive for more. His father especially was a role model for him, guiding him to live a simple, honest life, help others in need, and develop a curiosity for Hindu philosophy. Sadly, he lost his beloved father when he was 16 but his influence remained; in spite of this loss, Mr. Bhattacharyya excelled in his studies. As he grew older, he began to help assume family responsibilities with guidance from his elder brothers. As such, he formed an especially strong bond with his younger siblings, especially his twin sisters, for whom he played a father figure role until the end of their lives. He also took it upon himself to tutor and mentor the family cook’s son, encouraging his further education and career, and maintained a close friendship with him throughout his life.
After academic achievement in India and in the UK, Mr. Bhattacharyya landed his first job at Sears Roebuck in New York City, where he often would jokingly say were the best years of his life. While he worked, he continued to be devoted to his family from abroad. He took a leave of absence in order to go back to India to get his sisters married, and unfortunately sacrificed his job due to this extended stay. Regardless, upon return to the US, he found a job with Stone and Webster which was more attuned with his academic training.
In 1976, Mr. Bhattacharyya returned to Calcutta for his own marriage with Shila. The newlywed couple started their life together in New York, briefly relocated to Michigan, where their first daughter, Sujana, was born, and ultimately moved to the Bay Area in California, where their second daughter, Debika was born.
As they lay roots in Walnut Creek, Mr. Bhattacharyya, alongside his career in Control Systems Engineering, was an avid member of the Bengali community. He served as a Treasurer for Prabasi for one year and also served as a treasurer for the North American Bengali Community. (NABC). Locally he was often the life of the party at “nemontonos”, Bengali house gatherings that took place almost weekly. In fact, though he was often the last to arrive due to “Bhattacharyya Standard Time,” he was most often the last to leave, engaged in conversation by the doorway into the hours of the night.
Mr. Bhattacharyya felt a call for philanthropic work, in particular to give back to his alma mater, BE College. Locally, he helped structure the BE College Alumni association with annual picnics and Christmas dinners. In these gatherings, he discussed starting scholarships to accepted students in need. At his encouragement, fellow alumni began to donate in honor of their loved ones, and a network of alumni donations began; Mr. Bhattacharyya also offered scholarships in the memory of his late elder brother, Bishnu Bhattacharyya, who had been a professor at the college.
In addition to giving back to his college, Mr. Bhattacharyya had a long-standing desire to give back to his hometown of Chandannagar. When his younger brother tragically died of a heart attack at the age of 38, he used the inherited money to construct a school building in his brother’s memory; this housed a science laboratory, computer lab, and meeting space. Later he donated to more schools in Chandannagar, including constructing a theatre hall in one school and additional space needed at the girls’ school. He also continually donated in other ways, such as giving tuition and book money to the local young girls who had limited resources, and would keep in touch with them to encourage their academic progress.
As a person, Mr. Bhattacharyya had a personality like none other. A proud, fiery, traditional Bengali, he loved Rabindranath Tagore’s works, Indian classical music, and intellectual conversations. His keen interest in Hindu philosophy led him to contemplate over many Hindu scriptures in his retirement years. Throughout his life, he possessed a natural intellectualism and knowledge, especially in history, religion, and philosophy. He had interests in genetics and neuroscience as well. He also loved gardening and working with his hands, creating various shelves in the house and single handedly building his backyard deck, where he often liked to sit.
Due to his family’s tragedies with cardiovascular disease, he often taught and supported others in managing their health. In raising his daughters, he helped shape their characters based on his values of honesty, integrity, and curiosity. He was an uncle and elder brother figure to many his own family and his community, always striving to protect and take care of them and anyone in need. With bittersweet pride, he would often say he lived the longest in his family. Ultimately, the sequela of his own cardiovascular disease- including end stage renal disease and vascular dementia- sadly led to his own demise caused by cardiac arrest. He leaves a tremendous, inspiring legacy of courageous survivorship, intellectualism, philanthropy, strong values, and duty to one’s family.
Mr. Bhattacharyya was cremated on November 6th at Oakmont Mortuary in Lafayette, CA.
A Memorial Service on Zoom took place on Saturday December 5th at 7:30PM PST. If you would like a recording of the service, please e-mail Dr. Sujana Bhattacharyya at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people have asked about donating in honor of Mr. Sripati Bhattacharyya. While certainly not mandatory, we feel that contributing to research on South Asian cardiovascular disease felt most appropropriate, as this impacted his family and own health the most.
Thus, if you are so inclined, you can opt to donate at the MASALA study, a collaborative effort to understand what leads to heart disease in South Asians so that proper prevention and treatment can be offered. Please go to the link below and you can donate in his memory by clicking the appropriate box and typing in his name. Thank you and be well.
MASALA Study: https://www.masalastudy.org/
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