Aloo Jhabvala "Ava" Driver(1927 - 2014)

AMHERST - Professor Aloo "Ava" Jhabvala Driver died peacefully on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at the Hospice of the Fisher Home, with her daughter Shanta at her bedside.

Aloo was born Jan. 19, 1927, in the "Hermitage", Khaur, Mumbai, India, the home of her parents. She was the third daughter and the sixth of seven children. Her father Shavaksha Hormusji Jhabvala was a Persian scholar, author and a leader in India's Independence Movement and the founder of the All-India Trade Union Movement. As a child, Aloo enjoyed traveling with her father and hearing him speak at labor rallies or in the Bombay (state) Legislative Assembly, where he debated and voted on legislation beginning in 1937.

Aloo's mother, Meher Mehta Jhabvala was a civic leader. She served for decades as treasurer and then as a president of the All-India Women's Conference. Meher's uncle, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, was a founder of The Bombay Municipal Council and the Central Bank, the first commercial bank in India owned and managed by persons of the Indian descent. He was a vice-chancellor of Bombay University in 1915. In 1895, this barrister became the first Indian to speak before the British Parliament, urging India's Independence from British Rule.

Professor Driver is survived by two of her six siblings, a sister Phreny who resides in Kolkata, West Bengal, and a brother Cyrus S.H. Jhabvala, architect, artist and author, who retired as head of the Delhi School of Architecture and Planning. His paintings were exhibited in two New York galleries and are the subjects of two over-sized books. He resides in Delhi, Los Angeles, and New York.

Aloo Jhabvala was educated in St. Theresa's Convent and St. Xavier College. In 1948, she received her bachelor's of arts degree with honors in history and politics from Bombay University. She took graduate work in sociology at Smith College, for one semester and at Columbia University for several years. Her thesis was supervised by Sociology's most eminent methodologist, the late Paul S. Lazarsfeld.

While at Smith, Aloo met and later married Edwin D. Driver, who in 1948, at age 23, became the first person not of European descent to ever be employed at the University of Massachusetts. Their three children, Shirnavaz, Shanta and Cyrus graduated from Smith College Day School, Williston Academy and several universities. Shirnavaz graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's of arts degree and from Brandeis University with her doctorate, Shanta graduated from Harvard University with her bachelor's of arts degree and from Wayne State University with her Juris Doctor, and Cyrus graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's of arts degree, University of California, Berkeley, with a master's degree and Stanford University with a doctorate. Aloo had begun their learning at a very early age.

Professor Driver is survived by her husband; children; son-in-law Michael; daughter-in-law Amy; and four grandchildren.

Professor Aloo E. Driver's professional career began at the University of Massachusetts. In 1962, she introduced a course in Hindi, the first Asian language course offered at UMass. Aloo was also fluent and literate in English, Farsi, French, Gujerati, Marathi, and Tamil. Later, she introduced a course in Research Methods for the School of Nursing.

In 1969, Aloo was appointed Instructor of Sociology at American International College (AIC), Springfield. She rose through the ranks and for more than a decade before her retirement in 2002, she was chairperson of the Sociology Department. On retirement, she was granted emerita status.

Professor Driver was a remarkable teacher, respected and adored by many, many students. Years after her retirement, when she leisurely walked, shopped or dined, former students, including a highly ranked administrator at AIC, called out her name, warmly embraced her, and again thanked her for having greatly enriched their lives.

Professor Driver was also a researcher and author. She supervised for her husband's book, "Differential Fertility in Central India" (Princeton U. Press, 1963), more than three dozen interviewers who had to be fluent in Marathi and English. She and her husband co-authored a 1987 book titled, "Social Class in Urban India: Essays on Cognitions and Structures".

Retired, Aloo Driver remained very active with the ordinary daily chores, taking walks and supporting her charities, especially PBS and the Democratic Party. Until 2011, she volunteered at the South Hadley Council on Aging, initially walking groups and giving talks but later simply taking names and collecting fees for lunches on Wednesdays.

Aloo was a member of the Zoroasterian Society of Chicago. She and her family lived by one of Zarathustra's motto's, "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds".

Aloo willed her body to the UMass Medical School.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 14, 2014