NORTHAMPTON - Sanat Kumer Majumder, 86, of Northampton, passed away peacefully Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, at Linda Manor, Leeds.
Sanat was born Nov. 1, 1929, in Ghalghalia, Bengal-then a part of India, but now in Bangladesh. He was the sixth of eight children born to the late Kalidas and Ranibala (Ghosh) Majumder. After graduating from Sripur High School in 1945, Sanat went to live with his married sister in Kolkata in order to attend Presidency College, the "Harvard of India". In 1949 he received his bachelor's degree in Botany, and then continued on to the University of Kolkata, earning a master's degree in plant physiology. During his college years, Sanat had the privilege of attending Mahatma Gandhi's prayer meetings-a very formative experience, which led to a lifelong devotion to Gandhi and his writings.
Sanat's first position as a botanist was as assistant at the Jute Research Institute near Kolkata. Meanwhile, he kept his eyes open for an opportunity to continue his studies in the United States. In December, 1954, he left by ship for London and New York, seeing snow for the first time at the University of New Hampshire as he began his Ph.D. studies.
After Sanat's first year of adjustment to the New Hampshire climate and customs, he had the opportunity to attend a conference of international students in Athens, Ohio. His seat-mate on the train was Boston University senior, Flora Clifford, from Boothbay Harbor, Maine. By the end of the conference, they had formed a relationship that led to their marriage in June 1957. The next year, Sanat completed his Ph. D. in plant physiology, followed by a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
In 1959, Sanat and Flora left for India, expecting to live there permanently. Sanat worked for two years at the Central Rice Research Institute in Cuttack, as he and Flora raised their infant son. Seeing little chance for professional advancement in India, Sanat accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Hawaii from 1962-1964. During that time his daughter was born.
Sanat inaugurated his teaching career at St. Louis University where he remained until 1967 when he was offered a position at Smith College. In 1968, the Centennial of Gandhi's birth, Sanat organized an entire week of related activities with seminars, a drama, and a performance by sitarist Ravi Shankar.
In 1972, Sanat moved on to Westfield State College (now "University"), retiring as full professor in 1992. During this time, Sanat became very active in Amnesty International, and served six years on the national board of AIUSA. Later he was coordinator of Northampton Group 76 and promoted Amnesty work with his writing and speaking engagements. Sanat was also very active in the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, serving one year as its Lay Leader.
Sanat's three favorite avocations were writing, travel and water color painting. He wrote essays and Letters to the Editor in response to current news that concerned him, and many have found his poetry inspiring. He and Flora traveled widely, with India being the most frequent destination. They also traveled vicariously in Latin America and Asia through the experience of housing foreign students from the International Language Institute. Sanat's sketches and watercolors brought him much satisfaction and pleasure, as well as great joy to the viewers and recipients.
No doubt Sanat's greatest satisfaction was in his children and grandchildren-their growth and accomplishments. He also took great pride in his extended family, including the children of his thirty nieces and nephews.
Sanat was predeceased by his parents and six out of seven siblings, all in India. He is survived by his sister Gitali Basu in India; his wife Flora Majumder; his son Tiku Majumder and wife Susan Abrams; his daughter Shari Majumder and husband Frank Ticheli; and his grandchildren Jonah Majumder, Nathan Majumder, Leah Majumder, Hannah Ticheli and Joshua Ticheli.
To honor Sanat's devotion to education and science, his body has been donated to the Anatomical Gift Program at Tufts University School of Medicine. The family wishes to thank the staffs of VNA Hospice and Linda Manor for their compassionate care.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Society, 220 Main St., Northampton.
In lieu of flowers, you may consider a gift to Amnesty International USA, 5 Penn Plaza, 16th floor, New York, NY 10001, or to the Unitarian Society.
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