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Harbhajan Singh Johl


1935 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Harbhajan Singh Johl Obituary

September 30, 1935 - November 22, 2017

The world has lost a truly great man, who has left an indelible mark on this community.

Harbhajan Singh Johl was born in the morning hours in Jandiala, Punjab on September 30th, 1935.  The youngest of five children--and the only son--he was adored by all who met him.  He spent the days of his youth climbing banyon trees, going to school, and swinging a scythe in his family's wheat fields.

Harbhajan was a bright and determined child, and once he completed his primary education, he set his sights on America.  At 19, he immigrated to Yuba City, California, and he put himself through school.  He would work in orchards in the mornings and evenings to earn the money to attend Yuba College and Chico State.  He remained focused on his goal of earning a Bachelor's degree in Crop Science, which he did in 1960.

He began farming, using what he had learned from working in orchards as well as from his education to cultivate the land and make a living for himself.  He would be a farmer for the rest of his life, growing peaches, prunes, almonds, and walnuts.

The 1960's were a time of struggle for Harbhajan, and he worked multiple jobs to support his family.  One of the ventures he undertook was custom harvesting.  He was one of the first people in the area to own mechanical peach harvesters, and he would often recall how traffic would stop and marvel at the harvesters shaking peaches off of the trees.

Harbhajan, along with Nirmal Shergill, started a weekly Sunday night Punjabi-language radio program in 1968 as a service to the community and a way to share their love of music.  The Punjabi Radio Program ran news, entertainment, and community announcements for 34 years.  It was the first such program in California.  On Sunday nights, people would drive from the Bay Area to Fairfield to listen to the program.  They would sit in their cars in a parking lot, listening to the songs, the announcements, and the voice of a community.  During that time, Harbhajan's was one of the most recognizable voices within the Northern California Punjabi community.

The 1960's also saw rapid growth within the Punjabi community in the Yuba-Sutter area, but there were no local resources for community gathering or worship.  Harbhajan was one of the 26 founders of the Tierra Buena Sikh Temple in Yuba City, and served many years as a director and officer of the board.  He was essential in the fundraising and promotion of the effort to build the Temple, using the radio program to garner community support.  Today, this Temple is known the world over, and people come from all corners to pray in its Sanctuary.

In 1973, Harbhajan started working as a Pest Control Advisor for PureGro Chemicals, eventually moving to John Taylor Fertilizers until he retired.  His knowledge and expertise was an asset to area farmers, and he would often drive through his customers' orchards, looking at leaves and assessing the needs of the trees.

He sponsored a number of relatives that settled across the United States to help them achieve their dreams.  These people would stay in Harbhajan's home as they acclimated to life in the United States, and would have his support to find their own success in this new land.  There are hundreds of descendants of his kindness.  Harbhajan felt a deep sense of pride for these citizens with college degrees, doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers, teachers, business owners, lawyers, pharmacists, crop advisors, and more.

Harbhajan Singh Johl passed away peacefully on November 22nd, 2017 surrounded by his loving family.

Harbhajan is survived by his loving wife, Satnam Johl, his son Jeffrey Johl of Yuba City, his daughter Narinder (Kuldeep) Kahlon of Yuba City, his daughter Rupinder (Sandeep) Sandhu of Yuba City, his son Sondip (Anureet) Johl of Vacaville, his son Dhanvir (Hannah) Johl of Yuba City, his grandsons Shaan Sandhu, Karan Kahlon, Ryan Sandhu, and Rajan Johl, his granddaughters Amrita Kahlon, Mahi Johl, and Veera Johl, and his sisters Baldev Atwal and Gurmej Bains, both of Yuba City.  He is preceded in death by his sisters Naseeb Shergill and Jaswant Takhar.

Harbhajan was the living embodiment of the American Dream, coming to the United States with nothing but the shirt on his back, and building everything he owns through his own blood, sweat, and tears. His work ethic, tenacity, and dedication all led to the prosperity and well being his family enjoys today.

This man sacrificed for the benefit of others, and his family was the greatest beneficiary of his efforts.  He loved his wife, he adored his children, and he found great joy in the laughter of his grandchildren.

He understood the power of a strong and unified community, and he gave freely of himself for the growth and benefit of his community.  He has touched countless lives.  From the worshippers at the Temple he helped found, to the people who felt connected to their community through a radio program, he donated his time, money, education, and love to touch the hearts and minds of people he had never met.

Harbhajan will be remembered for his integrity, his honesty, his generosity, his humility, his wisdom, his love, and the fact that he cared about the things that mattered most.  He was a good man, in a manner that is rare and special these days.  He has left this world a better place than he found it, and humanity has suffered a great loss with his passing.

Services will be held Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 11:00 am at Ullrey Memorial Chapel, 817 Almond Street, Yuba City, CA.  Prayer services will follow at Tierra Buena Sikh Temple, 2468 Tierra Buena Road, Yuba City, CA.

Send condolences to www.appealdemocrat.com
Published in Appeal Democrat from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2017
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