Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai

Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai

Male 1933 - 2015  (82 years)

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  • Name Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai 
    • Name given on birth was Sumanlal.
    Born 17 Apr 1933  Masaka, Uganda Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Gotra Vashishtha 
    Died 27 Oct 2015  UK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Subdural haemorrhage 
    • Cause of death was subdural haemorrhage as a result of a fall due to a hypoglycaemic attack. The bleeding was exacerbated by continuing anti-platelet medication for a minor stroke many years previous.
    • (Video Link)

      Tribute/eulogy by Reethah Desai

      My father was a big man. In three ways. He was big in terms of his height - he was 6ft. And, he looked even taller, with that distinctive, funny, black, Russian fur hat that he always wore when he went out - which some of you will remember. In fact, Jayesh and I considered sending Papa off today, dressed with that hat on his head because that is one image I will always remember of him.
      But, my father was also big in ambition. He wanted to be somebody and to do great things. How do you do that when you come from a poorly educated background, where your parents have barely enough money to send their children to school with shoes on?

      My grandparents made every effort to educate him, and all their children. From a poor child in the then small, backwater town of Tanga, in East Africa, in an insignificant colony of the British Empire, then called Tanganyika, he grew to become a man of the world. Papa became a doctor and an expert. He lived, travelled and worked internationally. He wanted to master - and be his own master in - our post-colonial world, equal, powerful and free.
      We must not forget that my grandparents - Ba and Bapuji - sowed the seeds for this. I thank them for this. Bapuji's courage and enterprise to migrate at the young age of just 16, from one continent to another, moving from a tiny village called Jalalpur near Nausari, Gujarat, to Tanga in Tanzania. Why? To secure a better life for his future family and future generations - me. Ba and Bapuji's dedication to their children meant they gave up any pleasures for themselves, at the ridicule of the Tanga Gujarati community. Instead, they focused all of the very little money, that they earned from a clerical salary, to educate their 9 surviving children.

      In this way, Papa, as the eldest son, carried the torch. He was enabled by his parents to carry their torch - and he raised the bar for the Desai family. He set the standard for excellence - we all know how vocal he was whenever he thought people were not good enough! He led the Desai family's transformation into a new way of life, into a new level of society, into a new place - indeed places - in the world. It takes someone with big ambitions and strong qualities to do that. That was his contribution. As a result, our Desai family has become international, professional and wealthy. Equal, powerful and free. With choices.
      Papa thought big - and he wanted to make a difference in the world. He was an excellent doctor. Working for the World Health Organisation, he improved public health, and public health education, in Nigeria, where both these were underdeveloped. When I visited Papa there one summer in the mid 1970s, travelling with him by boat through the mangrove swamps from town to town and village to village, I was struck by the respect everyone at all levels of society paid him - local people, professional colleagues, friends and state officials alike.

      As a General Practitioner, Papa treated patients across several continents. I've received injections from many doctors in my life, but he is the only doctor with whom I never felt the needle when he gave me an injection. Maybe that explains why he was so popular with his patients. And they came to him not only for medical advice, but also regularly came to him for advice about life in general.

      My father's desire to make a difference in the world was also seen in his support for international development. He was interested in ambitious projects. Such as greening the Saharan deserts through underground irrigation. He aspired to one day create foundations to promote this kind of transformational work.
      But ... most of all ... Papa was a big character. He had a presence that defied his humble upbringing and origins. He had a supreme confidence and talked with utter conviction about his knowledge, skills and opinions. In fact, with his oratory, he could persuade almost anybody ... to do anything.
      Papa was not the kind of father to play with his children and grandchildren. I really missed that. But ... he enjoyed sharing his vast knowledge about the world with everyone who would care to listen - or not! - as I'm sure you all experienced with him. He could talk for literally hours! In fact, if he were here today, I would not get a word in edgeways! In particular, he liked science, politics and history. He quoted figures, and dates, and names of people, and global and local events, going back thousands of years! And all this at his fingertips, which he speedily brought out to inform and educate his family and friends.

      I remember letters he sent to me by airmail, when he was working in Nigeria, while our family was living in London. I still have one in which he explained plate tectonics to me. I know it's standard thinking now, but at that time the discoveries about plate tectonics were revolutionary. In the letter, Papa drew detailed diagrams to share his interest with me, for how plate tectonics works. Even though I was a girl! I thought that was pretty cool.

      Papa was fiercely independent and self-reliant. If he could have, he would have insisted on delivering his own tribute and eulogy today. His 'I can' attitude was impressive. He liked to find out how things worked, and this was for reasons that went further than simply his intellectual pleasures. He taught himself how to do everything he needed, because he knew this made him powerful and free. Not only was he a doctor but he studied law. And he tackled and fixed, anything and everything, by himself, that needed tackling and fixing, whether it was the human body, the car, or even major repairs to the gas boiler - all without a Corgi registered gas engineer in sight!

      My father was a strong character. His ambitions for the whole Desai family meant he had to be. And so he fought relentlessly against the system when he thought things were wrong. I owe my excellent secondary education to my father. I was 11 when in 1972 our family arrived as migrants to a new country - this country. I took my 11+ exam which was the exam taken by all children at the end of primary school that determined your options for secondary schooling - and therefore, the opportunities for the rest of your life. Despite my excellent results, I was allocated a place at a school notorious for its poor academic record. The authorities informed my parents that there was absolutely no possibility of changing my school. It was a stressful time… You know that education has always been paramount in the Desai family right from my Ba and Bapuji's days. You will not be surprised to hear that Papa refused to accept the decision. It's not easy to fight for your rights in a new country when you don't understand how the system works and where racism was so much stronger then, than it is today. Papa supported me. He did everything that he needed to do, to understand how to challenge the decision successfully. And then he battled the education system on my behalf, until, finally, he won me a place at the school of our first choice.

      What will I remember my father for? One phrase of three words: "mind over matter". For example, within 3 days of coming out of hospital from his first hip replacement operation and against all the advice and regulations, he ... was driving! ... his car to the shops!

      I have spoken to many people about my father. How did some of them describe this 82 year old man with both hips replaced, a triple heart bypass, daily insulin injections, a previous stroke, and the prospect of weekly dialysis looming? They used the word ... 'energetic'. In fact, we all marveled at how Papa would stride quickly and purposefully along, when he was out and about on his business, looking so striking in that black Russian fur hat. He was fitter than many people much younger than him. Mind over matter.

      However, human beings are complicated. We have all seen our very strengths ... become our weaknesses. We have seen how our qualities ... can equally become our liabilities. And as well as being a good role model ... we can also become a terrible warning. So we are not just black or white, good or bad. We are all these things at the same time. And Papa made a lot of mistakes in his life which affected him and the people around him - his friends and family - me - hugely and sometimes terribly.

      Despite that, another word some people - and I included - have used to describe Papa is ... 'inspiring'. Why? It's because his sheer physical and mental stamina were legendary. Throughout his life, my father never ever gave up on what he believed in. Papa remained a big man to the end. Big in height, even bigger in ambition - and, most of all - big in character.

      Condolence messages from relatives

      By Urmen Desai (nephew)

      It wasn't until two weeks ago that I realized how drastically my life has been shaped by Jayant Uncle.
      I have fond memories during my childhood of his trips to the United States, as he would always be sure to spend a week or two with us in Boston. I also fondly recall when he told us the complete history of the Desai Family at our family reunion in 1996 in our backyard. More recently, I recall chatting with him late into the night when I went to Ilford and visited him onmy way to Paris during a winter break in medical school.
      However, these particular interactions did not have as big of an impact on my life as did the events which took place decades prior. Jayant uncle was the first physician in the Desai family. His success and happiness as a young physician in Tanga was quite evident in the eyes of his younger brother and sisters. Jayant uncle dedicated decades of his life to the field of medicine, public health, education and social services. It is a likely explanation why so many of his nieces and nephews have found a similar success in these fields as he had. Indirectly, through the urging of our parents, we have followed a similar path and direction as Jayant uncle. It is for this reason that I am forever grateful to him for shaping my life in this way.
      You will forever be in our hearts and minds.

      By Sudha Trivedi (sister)

      I am deeply saddened by the loss of my elder brother, Jayant whom we always addressed as Motabhai. He will be alive in my heart and mind and will never be forgotten. I will surely miss the presence of a truly loveable and kind person though a bit stubborn. His fond memories will bring comfort during this hard time in my life. I look back on all the good memories I have and smile at the fact that I was able to share these before he passed away. I am the third child of Dahyabhai Desai's family and was lucky to spend my childhood with him.
      Let us remember when we lose a loved one here on earth, we gain an angel in heaven that watches over us. May we take comfort in knowing that we have an angel watching over us now.
      Man is born with his hands clenched, but are open in death, because on entering the world he desires to grasp everything, but on leaving, he takes nothing away.

    Person ID I648  upadhyaya_travadi
    Last Modified 6 Nov 2015 

    Father Dahyabhai Ranchhodji Desai,   b. 23 Dec 1906,   d. 8 Aug 1981, Tanga, Tanzania Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Mother Shantagauri Bhikhabhai Naik,   b. 15 Jul 1911, Chikhli, Surat, India Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Jul 1969, Surat, Gujarat India Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 57 years) 
    Desai & Naik Families
    Desai & Naik Families (47)
    Dahyabhai Desai & Bhikhabhai Naik
    Family ID F132  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Maria Emilia (Mimi Uma) Correia Afonso 
    +1. Malini Jayantilal Desai
    +2. Reethah Jayantilal Desai
    +3. Jayesh Jayantilal Desai
    Last Modified 23 Feb 2013 
    Family ID F292  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Deep 
    Last Modified 8 Jun 2012 
    Family ID F509  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 17 Apr 1933 - Masaka, Uganda Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Cause: Subdural haemorrhage - 27 Oct 2015 - UK Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai  Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai

    With Hardeep Sodhi Desai (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Raskazone Park in Tanga, Tanzania
    With Maria Emilia (Mimi/Uma), Reethah (left) and Malini (right) (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Mumbai, India
    Jayantilal and Mimi graduated in different years.(This was a set up shot. ) (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Tanga, Tanzania
    With Maria Emilia (Mimi/ Uma) (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Ooty, India
    With Maria Emilia (Mimi). Whilst on holiday when studying at Bombay Medical College (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    With Reethah Desai and AntonJari Desai-Paulden (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Port Harcourt Nigeria
    Working for the World Health Organisation in Public Health
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    On holiday whilst at Bombay Medical College
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Jayantilal Dahyabhai Desai
    Handprint taken on death
    Desai sons of Dahyabhai Ranchhodji Desai
    Left to right Yashwant, Jayantilal, Kundan, Kishore (At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.)