MARCHESTER, NH– Dr. Padma R. Mathur, one of the founders of the Indian Association of New Hampshire in the 1989 and one of the early Indian-American immigrants to New England, passed away on Feb. 28. She was 92.
After studying medicine at Mysore Medical College, Padma left India for further education and medical training in the UK. She had intended to return to India after completing the program, but destiny had other ideas.
On board the ship that took Padma from India to England, she met Suresh Mathur, who was on his way to the US for further studies. After four years of keeping in touch only through letters, Padma came to the US in 1962 and married Suresh a year later, returning to the UK only briefly to take her exams and to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Padma is survived by her husband of 60 years, Suresh Mathur; a daughter, Anuradha Mullikin and her husband John of Auburn; two grandchildren, Katelyn Radha Mullikin of Seattle, WA and John Suresh Mullikin of Auburn; and a brother, Rangarajan Iyengar of Bangalore, India, according to her official obituary published on the Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium website. She was predeceased by her sisters Vasantha, Leela and Saroja, and by one brother, Sampath Krishna. She also leaves behind many nieces, nephews and cousins, primarily in India, and many friends across the US and in India.
Padma was born in Mysore, India on March 30, 1930, the daughter of Krishna Ramaswamy Iyengar and Rajamma Iyengar, and the oldest of six children.
“She was way ahead of her time,” said her close friend Durga Krishnan. “She was outspoken, had quick wit. She was never hesitant to speak her mind, and was also a very loving and caring person.”
Padma was one of the founders of the Indian Association of NH in the 1980’s and was a member of the public service committee. One of her favorite activities as part of the committee was volunteering at the local soup kitchen. She also loved to paint and took painting classes after her retirement. Her paintings proudly hang all around her home. And most of all, she loved to entertain her friends in her home, right up until the end of her life.
“Her husband Suresh wrote the first bylaws of the IANH. Padma was closely associated with IANH until the very end. She served in various positions on the Executive Committee until 2004,” said IANH Secretary Tej Dhakar.
He said Padma served one term as the President of IANH.
“I remember attending many Executive Committee meetings around the dinner table at her house. As Cultural Chair, Padma meticulously organized the Spring and Diwali Festivals for the association. She invited reputed performers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to perform at the festivals. The association was small then. We would serve food cooked at homes at the festivals,” said Mr. Dhakar.
“Even after relinquishing her position on the Executive Committee, Padma remained associated with IANH until the very end. She frequently sponsored the Manchester Soup Kitchen service, attended IANH events and donated to IANH fundraisers…Her passing away has taken an important member of Indian American community away from us. She will be missed. We pray that she may rest in peace.”
Padma and her husband together raised their daughter Anu in Manchester, NH where they settled in 1972. Padma retrained in a second medical specialty, pathology, and then dedicated the remainder of her medical career to veterans, serving as a Pathologist and the Chief of Laboratory Services at the VA Medical Center for almost 27 years, until her retirement in 1998. She then dedicated her retirement years to helping to raise her two grandchildren, Katelyn and John.
“My mom dedicated her life to others, as a doctor, as a sister, as a wife, as a mother, as a grandmother, as a mother in law, as a volunteer and as a friend. She so enjoyed being with everyone, entertaining so many close friends over the years, celebrating every family member’s birthdays, graduations, recitals, weddings and anniversaries, and just enjoying life to the fullest,” said her daughter Anu. “Though I am truly saddened to lose my mother, I know that she lived an amazing and full life and touched the lives of so many other people. She was healthy and in good spirits almost until the very end. Even on her last day, she was visited by her family members and friends and knew we were all there for her.”
As the news of her death spread, condolences came pouring from all those who knew or had worked with Padma in various capacities.
“I first met Dr. Padma at an IANH summer picnic in 1997 and she was so warm and welcoming to our family with 2 young kids at that time. I was so amazed by her humble, yet very forthright and strong leadership qualities,” said Vani Thilagar. “Truly, she inspired me to volunteer for IANH with my family. Right until she was able to have visitors, she was a delight to talk to, since she was so knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics. Her passing is a great loss to the community, but I’m truly grateful and honored to have known her.”
Deepa Mangalat, a fellow New Hampshire resident who knew Padma quite well, said: “To me, Padma was a mentor, a caring friend, and a well-wisher. She was very particular that we give back to the community in which we live; this I learned from her. I admired and adored her for her sharp wit, her wisdom and her compassion. I am grateful for her phone calls and our chats about everything under the sun! Hers was a life well-lived! There will never be another like her.”
Added Padma’s granddaughter Katelyn Mullikin: “My grandmother lived a full, impressive, beautiful life. I am so grateful that her memory and legacy will live on through the stories her many friends, colleagues, and extended family have shared. I will always remember her love and patience, for the many things she taught me: cooking, painting, sewing, music and more, her wit and humor, and her dedication to her family, work, and community.”
Barinder Ahluwalia, another friend of Padma, said: “Padma was my mentor/friend/sister all in one! She was such a giving soul, warm and nurturing. She believed in helping others and was involved in so many charities. I will miss our tea/dinners and chats on the phone and in person. I met Padma through IANH and she mentored me to become the Chair of Public Service. She would make me lemon rice when she could barely move and have her caregiver help her with that. On her 90th birthday we even did salsa dancing. She enjoyed and loved life. I missed talking to her as we moved away. May she rest in peace. Our deepest condolences to Suresh, Anu and her family.”
Visitation will take place at Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium, 243 Hanover St, Manchester on Sunday, March 19th beginning at 2:00 PM, followed by a brief eulogy and remembrance, with a traditional Hindu service to follow at 3:30 PM in the funeral home chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Padma’s memory to the NH Food Bank or Liberty House (which provides transitional housing and other services to homeless veterans).
To view an online tribute, send condolences to the family, or for more information, visit https://www.phaneuf.net