Trilochan Padhi, age 73, passed away on Saturday, August 31, six years after having been incapacitated by a sudden hemorrhagic stroke. Trilochan was a loving father, a brilliant geophysicist, and a loyal friend to many.
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After graduating first in his class at St. Stephen's College in Delhi, India, Trilochan came to the United States in 1962 to pursue a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. He then joined Shell Oil Company in 1969 as a geophysicist, where he is remembered by colleagues as "one of the most able and clear-thinking scientists of his generation." Trilochan made "countless significant contributions to Shell's success," and coworkers say that his work and insights "formed the foundation of geophysics at Shell." Just as often as friends remember Trilochan's genius, however, they remember his humility, describing him as "deeply thoughtful, caring, and compassionate" and as a "kind and learned man" who was absolutely without pretension and always willing to help.
Trilochan was both curious and approachable in his life far beyond the workplace. He was a man of a million hobbies, barely able to decide whether any particular day should be spent fishing at his ranch in Hempstead, playing tennis with his daughters, working on his cars, stargazing, playing with his many birds, or simply reading at home. He loved nothing more than spending time with his two daughters, Lizzy and Catherine, and he was always happy to encourage any interest they expressed, never feeling the need to steer them in any particular direction. One friend aptly describes him as an "oddly brilliant family man," a characterization that captures Trilochan's devotion to his daughters as well as his endearing quirkiness. Trilochan was brilliant, gentle, and playful, and the delight he took in inspiring others to think more deeply will be missed.
Trilochan is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine Padhi, and their mother Edna Rice; his sister, Sheela Padhi; his niece, Uma Panigrahi; and his nephew, Shankar Panigrahi.
A small ash-scattering service for friends and family will take place at Trilochan's farm at 24114 Laneview Road in Hempstead on Sunday, the 24th of November.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 8, 2013