David Gantz of Blessed Memory
July 26, 2017
July 26, 2017
Eulogy for David Frederick Gantz
By Ken Gantz
I’m David’s son Ken, or Kenneth (depending on whom you ask), and I just wanted to share a few brief words about my father.
My dad and I have a lot in common and shared many of the same interests - from architecture and music and cars and politics, to having majored in American Studies, which is apparently a one-way ticket to Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley’s law school), where we both had the same constitutional law professor some 30 years apart. I became a real estate attorney, just like Dad, finally understanding what he did at work each day, since as a kid, what stood out from the memories of visiting Dad’s office wasn’t the substance of his calls with attorneys on the other side of a transaction or his dictations into a micro-cassette recorder with his notes to some purchase and sale agreement, but instead watching from a conference room above on weekends as the motor court of the Fox Plaza was transformed into various movie sets, including the infamous Nakatomi Plaza for the movie Die Hard. So imagine my disappointment when I began my own real estate practice, and realized that, at least in Boston, it required a lot of reading, drafting, and editing various agreements, and that Bruce Willis was nowhere to be found.
As committed as my dad was to his work - and he was with Jeffer Mangels for 33 years - he always made sure to prioritize his friends and family. He was a constant fixture in the stands at my Little League games and for my sister’s dance recitals. We’d go on family vacations, like driving trips around the country and Canada, or to Hawaii and to England. My dad was apparently fond of retelling travel accounts of my latest bout of car sickness in the backseat of some Chevy Lumina rental, although I would like to go on record as stating that he has done his own fair share of damage to rental cars, so I guess we had that in common, too.
In 2011, my dad and I traveled the Alaska Highway together, having borrowed inspiration from a feature story in Car and Driver magazine, from probably some twenty years prior and that had stayed with me all those years, about the writer’s own father/son bonding trip as they traveled the remote highway. My dad, in a wholly unsurprising move, declined the optional $11 windshield insurance at the rental counter even after some urging from the Hertz attendant well-versed in the highway’s road hazards, and we lived to regret it after what must have been approximately 10 miles into our lengthy journey when a big rig kicked up a pebble that cracked the windshield. I doubt he made the same mistake when he returned to Alaska with my mom last year.
And on our family trip to England in the 90s, we rented a Fiat station wagon to venture beyond London to the British countryside. Not only did that poor car require a service call to siphon the gas tank after my dad filled it with petrol before discovering it was in fact a turbo-diesel, but on the final day of our trip, he gouged the hideous metallic brown paint of the fender against some countryside estate’s centuries-old retaining wall. Again, in a wholly unsurprising yet creative move, during the ensuing pit stop at a family restaurant, my dad hatched a plan to take a packet of the ubiquitous “brown sauce” condiment on the restaurant table (I’m sure you can tell this was a fine dining establishment) and use it to double as touch-up paint for the oddly colored Fiat, to avoid the inevitable damage fee from Hertz. And believe it or not, it worked.
Rental cleaning fees and damage waivers aside, my dad also passed down his proclivity for eye-roll inducing dad jokes and “quote unquote” witty one-liners. Apologies in advance to my 10 month old, Poppy, who isn’t here at the moment but will join us all later today.
My dad wasn’t perfect by any stretch, and we had our share of disagreements over the years. In his final days, he expressed regret for his shortcomings and the hiccups in our relationship. We talked about learning from his mistakes as I aim to avoid making the same ones in my relationship with my daughter. I know my dad loved his children dearly, and made sure to express it, and that includes my sister Deborah, my brother-in-law Jason (or Alvin – again, depending on whom you ask), and my wife Rachel. But he truly cherished being a grandfather to Jackie, Andy, and Poppy, and seeing Dad with his grandkids was something special. I’m grateful that he got to know Poppy, but sad that my children will grow up without their Grandpa David. But, as you hopefully take away even from this brief collection of anecdotes, there is much about my father, his memory, and our shared values and interests that will happily live on through me and in my heart. My dad loved his family and friends unconditionally, and I am sure he rests peacefully knowing that the feeling is mutual.
Eulogy for David Frederick Gantz
I am Elie Levy – David’s brother-in-law.
I’ve had 37 years worth of a beautiful, loving relationship to sum up David’s life and can conclude with absolute confidence David was mighty in spirit and soul. I’ve always known that how one dies reflects how one lives. The death terror anyone else would have succumbed to – from a cruel, unmerciful cancer -- was not what David did. In the last few weeks – David faced down this dreadful, invading alien ravaging his body – and we saw no inner death terror or trembling of imminent death. David may have suffered silently – outwardly though – he was brave and gracious to all.
David lived fully – and the most extraordinary virtue all of us saw in him was his ultimate and unyielding devotion to family. He yearned to take care of Kenneth, Deborah and loving Laurie. Sacrifice was the driving force of his life – self-denial for the love of his two sweet, beautiful children and Laurie. David always held the needs of others – especially his family in his beautiful heart. He filled his heart with wisdom and knowledge – until it overflowed and filled other people’s lives. Everyone here knows that being with David was fluid and natural – easy to talk to and he was eternally gracious, accepting and loving. He was so discerning, intuitive – knowing what you needed -- he listened genuinely enabling him to understand you accurately
David was directed to the practice of law. It suited him perfectly and being an attorney was his fitting and true work. It pulled for the traits essential to practicing law magnificently. Always ethical – above suspicion – and his clients saw he was worthy of being respected and trusted due to his actions. Easily – David was praiseworthy – filled with integrity and intellectual empathy, humility and civility.
I study Mussar -- the Jewish path of character development and spiritual growth leading to awareness and wisdom. I read the soul traits and asked which revealed David to the world the most. I decided the soul trait humility reflected David’s attitude and presence in the world. In Mussar- humility is defined as limiting oneself to the right space – physical and emotional space in the world. Humility is objectified here – and in relation to David – his presence occupied his rightful space in the world – not too much and not too little Just enough space. He didn’t jam other people into the corner by occupying too much space. His mighty presence and mind could have easily consumed the space of others – attending a prestigious law school – working for a prestigious law firm. David allowed others to occupy more space – to fill their heart with esteem. How – by not disclosing his achievements and success in life – and allowing others to enlarge their rightful space. This healed the world. In Orchot Tzaddikim – The Ways of the Righteous – we claim that a small deed done in humility is a thousand times more acceptable to G-d than a great deed done in pride. David was fulfilling Hashem’s plead for humanity to behave this way – and although David wasn’t aware – he was perfecting and making the world more holy through his humility. He allowed others to enlarge their space – this is kindness, compassion and love. Although arrogance has an insatiable appetite for enlarging one’s space – it can suffocate others. David never suffocated others – he seldom shared his many accomplishments. Oh – how he had Hashem smiling.
On the lighter side – I was known for tickling David’s deeply embedded wild hair. Ok – not tickle – poke. On several occasions – David decided he’d endured me long enough and surrendered – trusting me to walk him to the edge. On our family vacation to Hawaii – he got on stage with me and we danced to an audience, and he wore a baseball cap backwards. After years of me calling him Bro, dude and man – he started calling me bro. I speak Hebrew – so when I’d text or email him – I’d throw in a few Hebrew words. He’d respond with other Hebrew words and of course I’d respond with which English-Hebrew translation program are you using – because it’s wrong. Not really – he was right. While working on my dissertation – I needed subjects and David offered to complete personality assessments. He was worried because he later discovered I’d look at his results. David came to me saying “So now you’ve got a road map to my psyche.” I told him that for the last 37 years – I’ve been doing an archaeological dig in your mighty, thick brain containing billions of neurons and haven’t unearthed anything. The tissue is impenetrable and circuitry can’t be changed. I think I reached him --- and although still tamed – his wild side emerged occasionally.
David lived as a holy soul. His Heart naturally yearned to give – emotionally, physically and lovingly. David never sacrificed the ways of the heart for pure selfish reasons. He never chased self-serving opportunities. David gave abundantly -- and this pleased Hashem incredibly. He practiced Tzedakah – was charitable, honored justice, fairness and David was righteous. He never dishonored anyone – at work or in his personal and familial relations. David was grateful for the good in his holy life – and it was a sign of a heart made whole and pure by G-d. Gratitude enabled David to experience a heightened awareness of the beautiful gifts he possessed and he could purify and make holy the world by acting on his virtues. In the end – David’s heart felt what his powerful intellect understood. His heart only knew selflessness, compassion, generosity and treating others with respect and dignity. Remember – every time we perform an act of holy kindness, it honors David’s life. It is what David has left for us – a death defying, symbolic legacy of his sacred, heroic life. Heroic – yes – but in a silent, yet mighty presence constantly working to achieve moral outcomes for anyone fortunate enough to know this beautiful, righteous soul of a man.
Eulogy for Chris Reynolds April 9, 2011
I am Elie Levy – and I’ve been in this mighty man’s life for 42 years. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing Chris and documenting his oral life history. You see—Chris was a vet. who attended my Veteran’s Legacy Project class—which has been meeting for 10 years. Since he Chris was in the Navy for over a year, he was a vet eligible to be interviewed, by me and having his story recorded on a dvd which is in the family. The interview covers his entire life, and closes before receiving his cancer diagnosis. I had to convince him to let me interview him, and we’ve got a great, two hour oral history. It captures a life traveling over tough terrain, a few, flat, easy stretches, difficult hills to climb and some rollers.
The route over the last 4 years was difficult. Chris developed a major depressive disorder—sought treatment—was medicated and sadly enough, experienced a fierce, unremitting depression. He fought through the symptoms and eventually got off medications after I referred him to a therapist friend and a psychiatrist willing to taper him off his meds. Chris now was awakened. He was motivated to search for work—and we met regularly at my favorite coffee shop to look for work on my laptop. I also convinced him to join me at my mental health facilities. I’d pick him up in the morning, get that cup of Joe at Starbucks, the Orange County Register (paper) and head to run group. I see mentally ill folks at residential care centers—folks with schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. I educated Chris about schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder—and I wasn’t surprised at how nicely he took to our patients. I watched him interact with our folks—and how he was therapeutic and well received by everyone. Chris empathized with our patients—he understood how their incurable, lifelong diagnosis took aspects of their life away, and he seriously wanted to help restore life by doing for them. He made music cd’s for a patient—bought items for them and this took care of Chris’s need to feel valued and useful. It was healing for both—and his giving was appreciated. Our patients miss him and send their love and comfort to your family Peggy.
In the car one day, he says to me that he wants to be a counselor at the VA. I told him it took me 12 years in college to earn a degree to be a Clinical Psychologist. He said he doesn’t need a degree—he’s done watching me run group and he’s looking for a counseling job. I said OK—and he applied for several jobs at the Long Beach VA— but no luck. So— we partnered and co-led group.
I was impressed with Chris’s capacity to empathize with our patients—he shared his hurt and they experienced him as genuine, accepting and as supportive. Chris was in his element here—identifying, empathizing, consoling and belonging. He purchased a shovel for a schizophrenic patient who gardened in our yard—and taught him some things. Chris bought other patients toiletries, clothes and was a loved partner in their recovery program. He began to show me up—and I told him to stop it. Chris discovered he could impact our patient’s lives—and how his caring ways made him an agent of change. My patients detected no pretense in this man—and with no rehearsal, he danced with our patients the dance of life. He choreographed extemporaneously—and it looked good.
Chris also came to my anchor program Founders House of Hope—where I’ve been for 15 years—a 90 bed residential care program for the mentally ill. He made a significant impact here too—and the patients warmly welcomed him into their life. By now—Chris was ready for an epiphany and it came to him as a calling—maybe a whisper while in a solemn mood. He found his fitting work—and it was counseling our misunderstood, stigmatized, underserved, mentally ill folks. He asked me questions about our patients, and I even tried to find money in our little budget to hire him as a counselor. Despite this disappointment, Chris continued being with me--- learning and giving to our patients. Chris valued his time with our patients and they miss him.
I want you to know that Chris valued longevity in relationships. We’re in the car, and he says “Are you aware we’ve known each other over 40 years?” I said—why do you keep reminding me of that? I’m being honest now—he’d say it a couple of times a week. And then he’s saying—remember the time I’d get to your house while you were wrapping Tefillin and praying—and your mom would make me breakfast while I waited. I said yeah—you came early to get breakfast. He loved to reminisce, and we remembered the significant experiences that created this powerful, emotional bond. In the last few years, he’d actually ask me why I tolerated him—why I didn’t give him up long ago. He apologized for being difficult— showing self-awareness and insight – and a desire to change. I told him I wasn’t dropping him until he got a job and started buying me a cup of Joe—and that he was a worthwhile fella needing assurance he mattered to people. Chris knew he mattered to me— and I mattered to him. Remember—his fragile self-concept was being challenged with no offers to work.
You know the man loved to fish, share his catch and barbeque for friends. I’m not sure you know I almost converted him to Judaism. We’d talk about Judaism—and I told him I co-teach a conversion course with my Rabbi. I also told him I got $1,000 for every person I recruited to the class—and that we needed more Jews in the world. Seriously—he was fascinated by Judaism and read abut the history of the Jews and their plight. You know Chris was a historian—and he knew lots. He had a great fund of knowledge about things—not just history. He impressed others—and we learned from Chris. Before I’d leave for Israel—he’d say—now don’t buy me anything on sale—you pay retail for my souvenirs. I told him I had two lists with names on them—one list for people I pay retail and one for people I pay the sale price. He wasn’t on either list. I explained to him he was a full price friend—and not to worry. So—he got him a t-shirt from Tel Aviv University which I paid retail for-- a Star of David, and a couple of other on sale items.
In the end—Chris emphatically said he didn’t want to burden family. He prepared himself to die—and bravely welcomed the angel of death to transport him to his palace. We know death is frightening—and the quality and quantity of this fear depends on who you are. Chris lived 54 meaningful years— and in the process- learned so much about himself. He invited me into his mind for an archaelogical dig—one that uncovered lots of artifacts needing explanation and interpretation. He was unbelievably brave—willing to explore, analyze and find truth. Chris painfully understood life is full of irreversible events with consequences that hurt, derail and have serious implications for what’s possible for you. But-- recovery and pursuing some of what you dream for is possible. Over the 42 years, especially over the last 4 years, our friendship intensified and our trust and sharing deepened. I trusted Chris with my feelings and secrets. He revealed to me his disappointments, regrets and ways he redeemed himself.
In the last few months, he reminded me I was a deeply loved brother— accepting , caring and appreciating him. He’d end our phone conversations with “I love you” and I asked “Do I need to also say I love you?” I told him I liked him— and wasn’t sure I loved him. I told him love was a powerful force—and it symbolized a deeply, loyal, abiding, trusting relationship. I told him I’d love him, and be his lifelong friend for only $25.00
Chris entered the world yelling—making noise and left this world with a muted voice It was a turbulent passage—with corrective experiences along the way. Chris taught us much—resilience, strength and not to fear the unwelcome intruders who disappoint and interrupt life. Chris’s life symbolizes a meaningful trace that won’t fade— that is perceptible and appreciated for it’s deep, luminous image. Our relationship changed me and enabled me to discover aspects of myself unrevealed until I met Chris. Chris showed me his courage to become lots more than good enough, despite early challenges others would have surrendered to. The 54 years were compressed into a shorter span, and naturally—with lots of activity. I’ll have to ask Peggy for the dvd of Chris’s oral history to burn a copy for me.—when I get to thinking about him.
Edwin "Skip" Gills
Edwin Parsons Gills It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Edwin P. Gills. Edwin was born in Vallejo, CA on May 10, 1926 and passed away peacefully in his home in Long Beach, CA on January 25, 2011. Edwin was in the Boy Scouts as a youth and continued to be involved with Scouts in his adult life. He made himself available to truck the troops to their camping trips and other activities. He encouraged them to earn their badges and being a mentor and a moral compass to many which developed lifetime friendships. As in Scouts he nurtured another family of friends with the people he met over the many years working Riverside and Orange County for the US Forest Service. Edwin loved traveling by train, ferryboats, buses and taking road trips (especially back roads) and did so as often as he could. Edwin is survived by his brother Floyd Morgan Gills (Annie); his niece, Nancy Gills-Hughes (Jerry); nephews, Richard and Barry Gills; and special family friend, Mollie Tobin. Edwin will be greatly missed by many people whose lives he gently touched. The Memorial Services will be held on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 11 am at Church of our Fathers at Forest Lawn Cypress. Viewing will be on Friday, January 28, 2011 from 5-9 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to Community Hospital of Long Beach Foundation www.chlb.org
Elie, Chris and Skip
John J. Camilleri
John J. Camilleri lived in Bellflower, California with his wife Marion before passing away on June 22, 2009. They were married 60 years and had five children including Mariana, John, Catherine, Margaret and Frank. All the children live locally except for Catherine who resides in Pennsylvania. John was very proud of his children, teaching them the meaning of honor and respect. For many years John worked for North American Aviation in Downey before operating Spino's Italian Family Restaurant. Along with his wife Marion and their children, they ran their popular restaurant for 28 years. For seven years, the restaurant was located in Anaheim before relocating to Bellflower for 21 years. John and Marion sold the restaurant in 1987 and went to work part time for five and a half years at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, CA as food service workers. In 1993, John and Marion retired. John's interests included writing, woodworking and traveling
Loving and Departed Souls: Residents from Founders House of Hope
Arlene Gardipee (New Horizon Lodge)
Dr. Ted McKnelly
Dr. Purandar Mallya
Purandar Mallya, M.D.
February 7, 1940 - June 3, 2016
Date of Memorial Service: June 9, 2016
Purandar Mallya, M.D. was a psychiatrist that dedicated 50 years of his life to treating the mentally ill. I had the beautiful pleasure of working with him for 28 years. He was a loving, dear friend of mine who passed away on June 3, 2016. After retiring a few years ago, Dr. Mallya volunteered at Founders House of Hope. Tragically – he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and he fought heroically before succumbing to this dreadful cancer.
Dr. Mallya’s selfless, compassionate, sensitive and generous nature, along with his artful practice of psychiatry restored meaningful living to the severely, persistent mentally ill over the course of his life. He was deeply loved by his patients and the residents at Founders House of Hope.
To honor his righteous life, we are establishing a memorial scholarship for residents at Founders House of Hope, a 90 bed residential care center for the mentally ill in Artesia, CA. The scholarship will be used to support any resident at Founders who is actively pursuing his/her recovery and rehabilitation goals. Dr. Mallya was enthusiastic conducting classes at Founders on how residents could sustain hope, optimism and reintegrate into the community. He was a mighty advocate for the mentally ill and honoring his life this way will bring a beautiful smile to his face. Although Dr, Mallya has left the physical world, his legacy and monumental achievements leave an enduring, death defying and symbolic legacy of his sacred life.
Eulogy for Purandar K. Mallya, M.D. by Elijah Levy
Eulogy for Purandar K. Mallya
February 7, 1940 - June 3, 2016
Date of Memorial Service: June 9, 2016
Memory Garden Memorial Park and Mortuary
I will begin with a poem by Goethe:
The thought of death leaves me in perfect peace,
for I have a firm conviction that our spirit
is a being of indestructible nature;
it works on from eternity to eternity,
it is like the sun, which though
it seems to set to our mortal eyes,
does not really set, but shines on perpetually.
• Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I met Purandar in 1988 at a hospital in Orange County.
I recall a few months after I started at RTRC, Purandar losing his home to a fire. The employees decided to surprise Purandar by purchasing household items and placing them in his office. I didn’t know Purandar well at the time, yet I knew he was deeply touched by the generosity of his teammates. It was a little after this time that he and I were drawn to each other. I was assigned to be on Purandar’s team which meant we spent time in weekly treatment planning meeting developing patient care plans. In these meetings, I observed Purandar practice psychiatry as an art and science – and attending to the peculiar nuances in each of his patient’s unique mental health needs. Purandar knew his medicine and his patients.
Initially –our relationship was professional – and after attending a few treatment planning meetings and observing him interacting with others, I realized his style always included humor, sarcasm and a tendency to be a provocateur — a sort of agitator. In meetings, the nursing station or at the happy hours we attended on Fridays after work – Purandar loved to provoke and laugh.
I also discovered at some point early on that Purandar led a morning exercise group for the patients. I recall thinking – that was odd to have a psychiatrist leading an exercise group. I asked him why he was facilitating this group – and he said it was an important piece of our patient’s recovery program. As a staff psychologist, I was assigned the duty to coordinate a mental health educational program that had me recruit staff to speak on a mental health related topic once a week. At times it was tough recruiting speakers – until of course I asked Purandar to speak and of course he would offer to lecture.
In the three years I spent at RTRC, Purandar and I grew close. Outside of the hospital, we played racquetball and celebrated each family’s life cycle events. What drew us to each other? Purandar was a man of integrity, kindness, generosity, compassion and humility. I can only speak of him metaphorically for us to truly visualize – rather than intellectually understand Purandar Mallya. Imagine an anchor or lifeline – either will do – and ask what does an anchor or lifeline symbolize? An anchor symbolizes stability, security and safety – while a lifeline represents a line thrown to someone who is vulnerable – needing comfort. Purandar represented – for his family – an anchor and lifeline that Dar, Sue and Anu came to for emotional refueling and reassurance that things would be alright. I know that there wasn’t anything Purandar wouldn’t do for his family. A lifeline was always present – and it was available every moment of Dar, Sue’s and Anu’s life. I’ve never met a more generous man in my life – who would sacrifice spending on himself for his family and others. Purandar never measured success by financial prosperity -- he defined success in life by how much he could contribute to the success of his children. Dar and Sue know this – and for this I know you are both eternally grateful. Purandar cared deeply for Dar, Sue and Anu.
It’s not accidental Purandar chose to be a psychiatrist. He practiced psychiatry for 50 years – since emigrating to the U.S. and doing his residency in 1966. Purandar was drawn to psychiatry for a sacred reason – to heal broken minds. He once told me that he was named after a Saint
Aside from his profound devotion to family – Purandar was a holy man to the world. Again – he was incredibly altruistic, humble and a simple man when it came to satisfying his needs. He loved to eat of course – but aside from this – his needs were minimal. Purandar’s virtues include generosity, humility, kindness, trustworthiness, intellectual integrity and empathy. These represented his guiding principles in life. Empathy enabled him to assume the role of the other when he treated his patients. Purandar possessed a deep capacity to empathize – and he restructured each therapeutic relationship he had with his patients by navigating into their mental illness using a nontraditional, yet curative method of inquiry and being. He earned the trust and respect of each patient by talking to them using their natural and preferred language and not by examining their profoundly disturbed mind as a specimen to be analyzed. Each patient that he established this therapeutic relationship with concluded this Dr. Mallya is different than any other psychiatrist that has treated me – he’s funny yet serious and he listens genuinely and nonjudgmentally. In the end – the patient naturally admits Dr. Mallya is worthy of being trusted and respected. Dr. Mallya is a praiseworthy man. Dr. Mallya is my partner in my treatment and recovery. Dr. Mallya cares about me unlike any other psychiatrist has in the past. Dr. Mallya sees me as a worthy human being and not as a disabled human being. Dr. Mallya sees me as a human being living with a disability.
I want all of us, again to examine the virtue humility as it pertain to Purandar. Humility was core to Purandar—reducible to his biology and embedded deeply into his character and as a personality trait. Defined – humility means freedom from pride and arrogance, a modest estimate of one’s worth – self-abasement; an act of courtesy and the quality of being modest or respectful. In many religions and philosophical systems – humility is a virtue connected with being ego-less.
Humility consumed Purandar – and it’s what endeared him to his patients. We must though see humility as a metaphor again to truly understand what Purandar did with humility. Humility according to Mussar teachings – which is a branch of Judaic study dedicated to the cultivation of the qualities of the soul is perceived metaphorically as space.
One then asks: Do I leave enough space in the world for others? Am I jamming up my world with my space? Is there space I ought to rightfully occupy? Proper humility means giving up some of your space to others who aren’t taking up their rightful space in the world.
Arrogance as we know – has an insatiable desire for space and if not tamed, will demand more space than needed and will suffocate others. Mussar defines humility as limiting oneself to the right amount of space -- while leaving room for others – emotionally, physically and verbally.
Purandar understood humility – and he knew how much space he needed to occupy in the world. He never took up more space than he needed to because he knew his duty was to enlarge the space his patients occupied in the world. Purandar could have easily occupied much more space in the world simply because he was a physician – which automatically accords him prestige. But he naturally resisted being glorified for being a physician – and ironically enough – he glorified his patients and friends through his eternal kindness and humility. Purandar worked tirelessly to enlarge the space each of his patients occupied in their world – a world where they were historically devalued, and stigmatized; marginalized and this was ongoing – a maelstrom force they were condemned to face every moment of their abysmal life. Purandar was a holy man repairing a deeply fractured world -- a Saint simply honoring what G-d demanded of him. Purandar would explain to me it was his duty to restore meaning in the life of the Schizophrenic – to aid in the patient’s recovery – to return to each patient a mind worthy of rationality and a life of meaning and purpose. It was a majestic and monumental project – and Purandar injected endless hope, strength and faith in the lives of his patients. His righteous love of his patients and his inspiration gave birth to a hope that would otherwise never be realized. He practiced humility to a spiritual perfection – it was absolutely genuine and it inspired courage and meaning in the lives of his patients.
Purandar understood a long time ago that humility was the profoundest, fixed and inescapable fact of the human condition.
And now we need to look at Purandar’s parallel occupation as a comedian.
I know that I and others were drawn to Purandar because of his humor that made us laugh. It was infectious – it was shared and it united all of us at the hospital – increasing our intimacy and teamwork. It was an antidote to stress and it unburdened – and in relation to his patients – because he did joke with his patients, it inspired hope, healing, eased anxiety, it generated a happier mood and connected his patients to him. Purandar’s humor naturally attracted others to him – and he loved to tease me and others.
He would often call me any time of the day and say: “Are you running late again? You’re an hour late and I’m not going to wait for you anymore.” I immediately checked my calendar and realized he’s up to no good again.
In December of 2010 – Purandar and I spent three remarkable weeks in India. We covered lots of ground – visiting the community he was born called Killianpur, Mumbai, Mangalore, Manipal, Agra, New Delhi, Jaipur, Pune, Haradi and Udipi. India is vast, diverse and the people we met were just as loving as Purandar. I met his sister Mukta, nephews Ramesh and Pradip whose mother is Anu’s sister. I also met countless friends of Purandar who were all great hosts.
While traveling together in India – we often had to share a bed in the hotels. Now – you know what this meant to Purandar. So – I advised him to visualize a line down the middle of the bed – and that he could not cross the line. The imaginary line to Purandar never existed – and of course would lay his arm over my chest or tickle me.
Dr. Mallya emotionally sensed that Schizophrenia was the cruelest of the mental illnesses humanity bestowed on humanity. Thus --- he dedicated 50 years of his life to treating the mentally ill. Purandar was all heart and soul -- pure and genuine when reduced to each molecular cell in his mighty body and mind.
It’s not coincidental he decided to become a psychiatrist beginning in 1966. He practiced psychiatry for 50 years – since emigrating to the U.S. and doing his residency in 1966. Purandar was drawn to psychiatry for a sacred reason – to heal broken minds. He once told me that he was named after a Saint
He trained in geropsychiatry in New York before dedicating his work to treating the mentally ill. Purandar’s childhood profoundly influenced his development – and because of his capacity to appreciate empathy early in life – he chose to enter medical school. Purandar told me that his brothers strongly encouraged him to apply to medical school in Mumbai because they were offering 100 students a tuition free medical school program. Purandar wanted to apply – but to a medical school closer to home – yet knowing he could not afford attending a local medical school. His other choice was to become a tailor—according to what his father told him. Well – Purandar applied and gained entry to medical school in Mumbai and after graduating – he wanted to come to the U.S. Purandar got married at some point – and Anu enters the picture to make his life complete. Purandar then takes the international medical exam qualifying him to come to the U.S. to practice medicine. He came to Buffalo in 1966 with some of his medical school friends and worked long hours doing his residency.
We loved to reminisce about the hospital days -- how all these characters (us) disguised as mental health professionals were having too much fun actually treating folks. Well -- we did and as wild as we were, moments of breakthrough professionalism did surface occasionally. It was certainly off the grid -- to use today's contemporary cliche and it was marvelous. As you know -- Purandar loved walking on the edge -- and the fear of falling didn't frighten him at all. It was something no one could edit out of his genes.
Purandar was a righteous, loving and healing spirit. He had no enemy in the world -- loved by all and adored by his patients. The depth of his compassion and healing medicine is unmatched -- and his legacy is a symbolic one that will defy death. Purandar leaves a trail no one can blaze -- His name symbolizes eternal love- kindness and heroic striving to heal all the broken minds of our mentally ill.
Purandar repaired souls and minds for 50 years with an undying fervor. The Lord spent a lot of time carving out this man -- then endowed him with virtues that made the world more holy through his work. I knew Purandar 28 years -- he made me laugh, cry and taught me lots. His blessed memory will give me eternal strength.
Purandar leaves four loving grandchildren who loved and adored him abundantly. Although your grandfather is absent from the material world – his soul, blessed name and legacy defies death. Any time any of you perform a kind act for anyone – know that it’s your grandfather Purandar pulling strings from heaven to have you show kindness, compassion and love toward others. Your grandfather was named after a Saint – and he performed his holy work repairing minds and restoring meaningful living to his patients. You will miss seeing your grandfather – but as you walk through your home and see pictures of Purandar – smile at the picture and talk to your grandfather – tell him how you brought a smile to someone’s face that day, helped a friend or made your mom and dad proud of you. Purandar made lots of people smile and laugh – it was part of his medicine and it will be yours too. Ashiyana – Purandar told me how you and your cousins brought so much joy to his life – especially knowing that you wanted to become a physician. Purandar will smile big and wide the day you graduate from medical school. To all the grandkids --- Purandar’s spirit lives within each of you – it awakens with you in the morning and lays with you to sleep at night. Purandar’s influence on your lives is deeply embedded in your core identity.
Although Purandar leaves us physically – the symbols that represent his life will endure and remain durable. Symbols defy death – and every time you see Purandar’s name on a plaque, certificate or the two documentaries he is in – these are symbols that will endure and carry meaning. I have Purandar’s name in the acknowledgements in my books – and I will dedicate a page on my website to the life and work of a holy man named Purandar K. Mallya. Finally – we will establish a Purandar K. Mallya Memorial Fund at Founders House of Hope to recognize residents who are achieving their rehabilitation goals to restore meaningful living. These are the symbolic manifestations of Purandar’s life that will bring a big smile to Purandar.
Purandar did not fear death at its calling -- it's a mighty testament to how fully he lived a life of righteous giving, compassion and humility. He's leaving a sacred, significant trace in the sky that won't fade -- a sort of immortality symbol.