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Dilbagh Singh "Dil" Athwal

1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Dilbagh Singh "Dil" Athwal Obituary
Dilbagh (Dil) Singh Athwal

AGE: 88 • Toms River

Dilbagh (Dil) Singh Athwal, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on May 14, 2017. Dilbagh was born in Lyallpur, India (now Pakistan) on October 12, 1928. During the partition of India in 1947, he moved with his family to Punjab, India. In 1948, Dilbagh graduated first in Punjab University with a B.S in agricultural sciences. He was awarded an international fellowship (Colombo Plan) to study at the University of Sydney in Australia where he received his Ph.D. in genetics and plant breeding in 1954.

In 1955, he returned to India and married his wife of 61 years, Gurdev Clair. Dilbagh began his career as a plant breeder in Punjab, India and became the first head of the department of plant breeding at Punjab Agricultural University. His work yielded the world's first hybrid pearl millet (bajra) in 1963. He went on to produce the iconic wheat variety 'Kalyan' in collaboration with his colleague and friend, Noble Peace Prize recipient, Dr. Norman Borlaug. This research was instrumental in bringing about the Green Revolution in Punjab, India. In 1967, Dilbagh joined Ohio State University as a visiting professor. He then accepted a position as the Assistant Director of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and left as a Deputy Director General in 1977. During his time at IRRI, he took a sabbatical and completed an MBA at Harvard University in 1975.

In 1977, the Rockefeller Foundation invited him to join their organization headquartered in New York City as a Program Officer for Asia in International Agriculture Development Services. Dilbagh traveled extensively in Asia where he helped design and implement programs to increase food production. Dilbagh and his family moved to Ridgewood, NJ. His career also took him to Washington, DC and Winrock International in Little Rock, Arkansas from where he retired as a Senior Vice-President. Throughout his career, Dilbagh received many prestigious awards, including the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award and the Padma Bhushan National Award given to him by the President of India.

Dilbagh retired in 1991 and relocated to Toms River, where his children were living. He then took on a new project, pursuing a career in real estate development and building in a partnership with Prima Builders for 20 years. In addition to travel Dilbagh also enjoyed tennis, bridge and walking.

Dilbagh is survived by his wife Gurdev, son Barinder (wife Susan), son Harjit (wife Amardeep), and 5 grandchildren, Lisa, Neal, Jagdeep, Nishan, and Hernoor. He is also survived by many family members, including his nephew, Raghbir, who was like a son to him.

Visitation will be on Thursday, May 18th, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at Anderson and Campbell Funeral Home, Main St., Toms River. A private cremation will be held on Friday. There will be memorial service at Lawrenceville Gurudwara, at 282 Bakers Basin Rd., Lawrenceville, NJ-087648 at 12:00 PM on Saturday, May 27th.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to 225 N. Michigan Ave, 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 (

Family and friends are invited to visit to leave condolences to his family.
Published in Asbury Park Press on May 16, 2017
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