Udham Singh Purewal, 98, of Yuba City, passed away at home surrounded by his family on March 17th. |
He was born on August 8, 1914 in Punjab, India. Schooling was never part of our father's outlook. As schooling wasn't a part of his future, legend has it dad became an expert at ditching school.
Our father immigrated to California in 1954, reuniting with his older brother Bakhtawar Singh Purewal and uncles Gurbachan and Jawala Singh Purewal. He left his wife, Prito Kaur and his two young sons Rashpal and Narinder in India. They would join him seven years later.
Our father came to put his farming skills to work and to make a life he could be proud of for his family.
Together, the two brothers tried their hand at grape growing in Lodi. Eventually, they settled in Yuba City where after many years of hard work, they were able to buy their own farmland. It was not uncommon for our dad to work a shift irrigating rice fields in Colusa County before driving back to Yuba City to tend to his peach orchards. With their dedication and drive, the brothers built up a successful farming business that survives to this day as Purewal Farms.
Being a man of great faith, our father traveled to the Stockton Gurdwara, as did many members of the Sikh religion from Northern California. We children recall these family trips to Stockton with great fondness.
Recognizing what a burden the Stockton drive was, the Purewal brothers donated a portion of their almond orchard, to help build the Tierra Buena Sikh Temple. For the next three decades, our father was a constant presence at the Gurdwara, preparing food, wiping dishes – greeting everyone with his magnanimous personality and magical smile. The spirit of Seva (selfless service) was something that he practiced throughout his life.
Many vignettes exist of what a kind-hearted employer our father was. He could never turn away a worker and he could never bring himself to utter the two simple words with which a farmer ends the workday, "no mas."
Dad loved ice cream, "Big Time Wrestling" and the classic TV series "Bonanza." He loved his family and his wife of six decades.
Through the examples of his life and his faith, our father demonstrated humility, selflessness, and serenity. He had a peaceful inner light, allowing his Sikh faith to be his guide. Dad meditated on God's name, reciting and chanting Waheguru. It was this word that he uttered most in his life.
Thank you dad. You were our hero. Our bhagat. Our sense of humor when the days were dim. We will always treasure the goodness you instilled in all of us.
Our dear father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle and brother has returned home now. Though we are bitterly sad to say goodbye, we know he is with his brother, our uncle Buck (Bakhtawar), enjoying the biggest peach orchard of all. They are looking down on us and we are blessed.
Our family would like to thank all the caregivers, especially Sital Singh and Jerry Gale, who helped ensure that our father was always in the best hands possible. A special thank you to Dr. Madhu Jodhani for standing by us at every turn.
Udham Singh is survived by his wife, Prito Kaur of Yuba City; two sons, Rashpal (Pirtpal) Purewal and Satnaum (Ajit) Purewal, two daughters, Sharon (Daljit) Dhaliwal and Sukhjit Purewal; a brother Dalbir Purewal; a sister, Udhi Dosanjh of Yuba City; eight grandchildren, Ajeet Purewal-Phagura (Manjinder), Naubjeet Purewal, Jugjeet Purewal, Brandy Avis, Anthony Courtney, Aman Dhaliwal, Tarin Dhaliwal and Samata La Barth and five great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Chanchal Singh and Puna Kaur, a son Narinder (Wally) Purewal and his brother Bakhtawar Singh Purewal.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Ullrey Memorial Chapel. Services are scheduled for Saturday, March 23rd. Prayers to begin at 11am with Giani Arwinder Singh officiating. An additional prayer service and langar will follow at the Sikh Temple Gurdwara on Tierra Buena Road.
Published in Appeal Democrat from Mar. 23 to Mar. 24, 2013