James Sakaria Kalathil James Sakaria Kalathil, a 53-year resident of San Luis Obispo, passed away peacefully at home on January 30, 2018 at the age of 82, with his loving family by his side. His ashes were interred in the Old Mission Cemetery. He was a kind and compassionate man who loved his family and the beauty of the Central Coast. His easy-going nature readily made strangers into friends. A physics professor at Cal Poly State University, he taught countless students over three decades. Born in Kerala, India, James was a studious young man with a sense of adventure. After university, he worked at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, then studied physics in graduate school at Southern Illinois University. While teaching in Maryland, he fell for Lucia, an English department lecturer whom he persuaded to move across the country to SLO in a Volkswagen Beetle, then marry him at the Mission in 1966. James taught at Cal Poly until 1998, taking a break to earn a PhD in atmospheric physics. As one of the first professors of Indian origin in SLO, James helped found the India Club of the Central Coast, organizing concerts and cultural events. He was a life-long learner who appreciated a lively debate and playing devil's advocate particularly with his kids. For over 15 years, James battled Parkinson's disease and then cancer, but his spirit proved resilient. In retirement, he traveled extensively with Lucia, enjoyed weekly lunches with "the boys" (a group of old Cal Poly friends), and spending time with his grandchildren. James is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Lucia, daughter Shanthi Kalathil (Jon Wolfsthal), son Jayan Kalathil (Shereen Langrana), siblings K.S. Matthews, Kalathil Pappachan, Marykutty Joseph, Annamma Rathappally and their spouses, grandchildren Jacob, Katia and Alena, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by sisters Theresa Kalathil, Rosamma Cyriac and Alice Mathew. A celebration of his life will be held on March 24th from 2-5pm at the Monday Club in SLO. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in his memory to Wilshire Hospice (277 South St., Suite R, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401), which was of great help and comfort during his final months.
Published in San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Feb. 18, 2018.