Chaman Kashkari, an associate professor emeritus at the University of Akron, was a big dreamer. He devoted his research career to using technology to provide electricity and water to villages in Africa, India and Nepal.
The 83-year-old native of Kashmir, India, died on March 23. The Stow resident’s memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Billow Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road. Family visitation will start at 10 a.m.
It was Mr. Kashkari’s dream to bring life-giving water to 1,000 African villages. He succeeded. He raised $1.5 million to drill wells in 300 villages. His belief was if safe water could be harnessed it would guarantee a better life for people.
In recognition of his leadership in working to end world hunger, he received the Presidential End Hunger Award at the White House from President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
Mr. Kashkari earned his master’s of science and doctorate in electrical engineering in 1966 and 1969 from the University of Detroit and the University of Michigan, respectively. He joined the University of Akron in 1969 and was promoted to associate professor of electrical engineering in 1975. He retired in 1994.
He also authored the book, Energy: Resources, Demand and Conservation, published in India in 1975.
His son, Neel, is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and ran unsuccessfully for California governor in 2014.
“My father was very idealistic. He was the person who wanted to solve world hunger, literally. He wanted to really make a difference globally as well as in people’s lives on a smaller scale,” said his daughter, Dr. Meera Kashkari Kelley. “He had no interest in material things. He could care less having a fancy car, a fancy house or fancy clothes. He couldn’t be bothered with wasting time on those kind of things. He was more about ideas and being there for people.”
Focused on others
She said both her parents were born in India and saw so many people who lived in poverty and didn’t have the opportunities they did and it stuck with them.
“It gave them a sense of responsibility to try to create some opportunities for those who didn’t have them,” she said. “He was the type of person who always tried to help people around him when they were in trouble or having some difficulty. If there were families coming from India he would help get them established. Or if a family member or someone he knew had a serious illness he was always there at their side to help, doing whatever was needed. Even if it was just providing company or moral support.”
She recalled how her father used to walk around the house singing when he was happy, whether it was in his native Indian tongue or something nonsensical.
“That’s how he expressed his joy and appreciation for each day and it was kind of an infectious thing he had around other people,” she said.
Mr. Kashkari was strongly engaged in the Indian community in the Greater Akron area.
“They would get together for celebrations at each other’s houses and they would often have music programs, which he was an active participant, if not the sponsor of those events,” she said.
His wife, Dr. Sheila Kashkari, a pathologist, shared that the couple established a scholarship for women in engineering at the University of Akron, because women are underrepresented in engineering. It was started in 2012.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sheila; son, Neel (Christine); daughter, Meera (Ben) and granddaughter, Emma.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.