Sudhansu Sekhar Misra
Sudhansu Sekhar Misra was a man of remarkable character and kindness. An exemplary leader. Quick to smile and lend a hand to solve a problem. A fast and true friend. Someone willing to help whenever needed. An active member of the Twin Cities and Tampa Bay communities.
He was devoted to his family, here in Minnesota, around the country, and in India. He was an outstanding grandfather, taking lots of time to play, teach, and love his granddaughters when they were young, and encouraging their education as they grew up to become accomplished women.
Sudhansu was born in colonial India in 1929, and he was a curious and imaginative boy during the independence movement. His family fled from Dhenkanal, Odisha to escape the British-supported ruler when he was young and resettled in the nearby city of Athgarh. As he grew up, and India grew into an independent nation, he focused on his education and making a positive contribution to the world. He earned a BSc from Ravenshaw College in 1952 and an engineering degree from Banaras University in 1954. After graduating, he went to work for the Odisha State Government helping develop their early electrical energy grid.
In 1955, he married his wife, Induprava, and they began their happy 65-year marriage together. In 1956, he took a big leap and came to the University of Michigan in the United States, where he earned his MS in electrical engineering in 1958.
The Honeywell Corporation saw something special in Sudhansu, hired him, and brought him and his wife and daughter to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1959. He spent over thirty years of creative service with Honeywell, including helping develop the navigation systems for the Apollo moon project. With Honeywell, he moved to Florida in 1969 and returned to Minnesota in 1976, where he stayed until retirement in 1991.
Never one to rest for too long, as he was retiring from Honeywell, Sudhansu and his wife, Indu, created a supportive living program, Hati House, to serve people dealing with mental and chemical health issues. It continues to operate and provide important housing and services to people in the community.
In addition to these professional accomplishments, Sudhansu was always active in community and civic affairs. A leader in both the Twin Cities and Tampa Bay Area Indian American communities beginning in the 1960s, Sudhansu helped organize celebrations, artistic and cultural events, entertainment, and travel. In the early 70’s, he organized some of the first gatherings of the small number of Indian families in the Tampa Bay area. Events were often held at the University of South Florida where his wife was a graduate student. After he returned to Minnesota, he became an active member and early President of the newly formed India Club of Minnesota (now the India Association of Minnesota). He was also active in the growing Odisha Society of America. In more local civic commitments typical of his love for outdoor recreation and science, he served on the Roseville City Parks Commission and was a long-time volunteer at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Sudhansu served the wider Minnesota community as an early member of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. He was the first Indian American on the Council. Appointed by both Governors Rudy Perpich and Arnie Carlson, he served as President of the Council in 1989.
Sudhansu was also a philanthropist, supporting a variety of positive change efforts. He focused especially on efforts to expand opportunities for those who are challenged to access education. He was a strong founding supporter of the Nava Pravat School in rural Odisha, India. He was instrumental in the expansion of the school to include girls. He also strongly supported the Helen Keller School for Girls, which serves deaf and blind girls in Bhadrak, Odisha. In addition, he was a strong supporter of the Dhakhina Chandi, a temple in his hometown of Athgargh, where he funded the building of a community center.
Sudhansu had many personal interests including tennis, hiking, fishing, gardening, and building projects. He had a beautiful singing voice and his musical tastes ranged from Indian bhajans, to classical music, to popular singers like Mukesh and Harry Belafonte. He even took accordion lessons and learned to play polkas in the 1960s.
Along with his impressive array of outward activities, Sudhansu was a quietly spiritual man. An attentive student of Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati, he was a practitioner of meditation and the yoga sutras. He was an active member of the Meditation Center in Minneapolis, the Geeta Ashram, and the Hindu Mandir of Minnesota. He was a focused sadhaka and supportive kalyanamitra traveling the long road to moksha.
Sudhansu passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours of January 14, 2021. He was surrounded with the love and affection of his wife Indu, daughter Niru, son-in-law Brian, granddaughters Jaya and Asha, and grandson-in-law Michael.
The outpouring of respect and well wishes from family, friends, and community members is a testament to his extraordinary character and a life well lived. Sudhansu will be missed, remembered, and loved by all who knew him.
The family suggests that those so inclined should direct donations to an educational institution or educational charity of their choice.
Published on January 21, 2021
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