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Dr. Devendra Singh

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Dr. Devendra Singh Our beloved husband, father and teacher, Dr. Devendra Singh, passed away on May 18, 2010. As per his wishes, he died at his home in Austin, with his family by his side. He was 72 years old. Dr. Singh was born on January 12, 1938 in Urai, India to Thakur Sughar Singh and Kusm Kumari Sengar. He was the second youngest of six children. Dr. Singh is now remembered as a social scientist, but early on he developed a flair for the dramatic, which continued for the rest of his life-- especially in the lecture hall. As a young man, he acted, wrote plays and composed short stories which he sold for about 50 cents a pop. His love of cooking started as a young man as well-- over the years he maintained this passion-- students, colleagues and friends knew that they were in for a treat if they received an invitation to Dr. Singh's house for Indian food. He was slated to follow in his father's footsteps and enter the police service. However, in what was to become classic, quintessential, Singh stubbornness, he took his undergraduate and master's degrees in philosophy. Never one for the path of least resistance, Dr. Singh defied the wishes of his father again and applied for and was accepted for a doctoral position in psychology at Ohio State. He secretly left India in 1962 with a one way steerage ticket bound for the US. After completing his PhD, Dr. Singh taught at North Dakota State University before beginning his long and distinguished career as a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin in 1969. As a researcher, his work was seminal in establishing the nascent field of evolutionary psychology. Despite his substantial and important research contributions, anyone who knew him was well aware that his one true passion was his teaching. Students remember his unique, personalized teaching style-- elephant and cannibal jokes to convey a concept in psychology (try as you might, resistance to laughing at his jokes was futile as soon as he started giggling himself); rewarding successful students with figs ("an excellent source of serotonin"); his insistence that passing on knowledge was one of the most profound acts a human can perform; his belief that humor is a wellspring for life and that laughter must be sought even in the most unlikely of places. His final lecture in his Motivation class, the one he always looked forward to the most, was known as the lecture on his "Philosophy of Life." Although attendance was optional, year after year students packed in to hear his views. His message was very clear-- follow your bliss. He found his bliss in teaching. Even two weeks before he passed away, despite being very ill, he was excited about and planning for teaching summer school. For more than forty years, Dr. Singh fiercely loved his students, whom he affectionately referred to as his "family", and tried to instill a thirst for knowledge in the thousands that crossed his path. The family he loved and left behind include his wife, Barbara Singh; daughter, Dorian Sharda Singh and her husband Mat Savelli; daughter, Adrian Sandhya Singh; daughter, Anne Deepak and her husband Daniel Deepak and their sons Arjun and Kashi; his sister, Mano and her husband Soni; numerous beloved relatives in India, and of course, his two spoiled cats, Jim Pig and Pinot Noir. The loss and void that they all feel will never be filled. However they are blessed with more happy, hilarious and cherished memories than could fill a lifetime. Memorial services pending.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on May 22, 2010
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