October 23, 2014

Medina
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The Dash Between: Rotary’s ‘man of parables’ taught life lessons

The dates of birth and death that appear like bookends on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates. Award-winning writer Alana Baranick has made her living writing about the dash between. She’s focusing on Medina and Lorain counties and those who have made our area the unique and interesting place it is. Look for her stories on the first Monday each month in The Gazette and visit www.medina-gazette to find additional photographs.
The Dash Between is scheduled to appear once a month in The Gazette. To suggest a story or make a comment, contact Baranick at abaranick@chroniclet.com or (440) 731-8340.
Today, Alana Baranick examines The Dash Between Jan. 1, 1928, when Mahadeo Chand was born in Supaul, India, and April 7, 2011, when the Medina resident died at age 83.

Dr. Mahadeo Chand, known to the Medina Sunrise Rotary Club as a man of parables, used everyday happenings and situations to teach life lessons to his peers and family.

Once, while he and his wife, Sushila, were frying and folding papad (an Indian flatbread) into beautiful shapes for a party, he seized the opportunity to teach his granddaughter Ankur Khandelwal Groen about molding a child’s character.

Dr. Mahadeo Chand, center, was involved in many government-related projects in India. He was pictured here with India’s former prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was in office 1947 to 1964. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Dr. Mahadeo Chand, center, was involved in many government-related projects in India. He was pictured here with India’s former prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was in office 1947 to 1964. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“This is how our soul is,” said the Medina resident, who died April 7 at age 83. “When you are young is the right time to work on being a good person. This is why we teach you morals when you are so young — because you are young enough to learn it.”

On a memorial website for the retired pathologist, his granddaughter Ankur wrote: “There are many more tales like this where he’d take something simple and show us how deep of a meaning you can extract from it.”

Chand, one of 11 siblings, was born Jan. 1, 1928, in Supaul, India, in the state of Bihar.

He founded the Bihar Pathology and Research Laboratory and investigated the origins of diseases until his retirement in 1990. He belonged to and held leadership positions in numerous medical, cultural and social service organizations in India.

In the late 1940s, he married Sushila Dalmia. Their marriage was arranged by their families, according to Indian tradition.

“When they got married, he changed all of our family’s name to Mohanka because we are descendants of Mohan from Rajasthan,” said his granddaughter Abha Khandelwal. “It was a way to remember our roots. He had already gotten his medical license, and at that time there was a lot of paperwork to change your name, so he didn’t change his.”

Chand’s father-in-law was Gaurishankar Dalmia, a famous freedom fighter in India and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.

“There is actually a stamp in India with his face on it,” granddaughter Abha said. “There have been several books published about him in Hindi.”

Chand’s wife carried on her father’s practice of working for social causes through Rotary and other organizations. She once won a prestigious award from Mother Theresa in recognition of her work with impoverished women and children.

“Her merits could rival (her husband’s),” Abha said.

Chand relocated to Medina so he and his wife could help their three daughters and sons-in-law — Kiran and Pawan Khaitan, Shail and Thanmal Jain and Shobha and Anand Khandelwal — take care of their offspring.

“He had three daughters in the area — two physicians in Medina and one business owner in Akron — who all had small children at the time,” Abha said. “Day care was expensive, so he would take turns watching us and going back to India to work on Rotary Club and his local projects there.”

Chand, a past district governor of Rotary International District 3250 in India, had 50 years of perfect Rotary attendance. Whenever he traveled away from home, he found a local Rotary meeting to keep his perfect record intact. He usually told the club about his history with Rotary in India and Medina, where he served as historian.

“He meticulously prepared our weekly Rotary minutes,” said Joseph Gaebelein, Sunrise chapter president. “These presentations kept us current on the happenings of Rotary around the world and around Medina.”

Mahadeo Chand

Mahadeo Chand

For one of his presentations, Chand gave each person at the meeting a piece of paper with the answer to one of the Rotary-related questions he was going to ask.

“When he read the question, he, of course, expected to hear the correct response,” Gaebelein said. “Many times he didn’t, and the members would erupt in laughter. He not only educated, but entertained us, as well. He continuously invited us to share his passion for Rotary through greater involvement, especially through our support of the Rotary Foundation.”

Fellow Rotarian David Lariviere said Chand exemplified the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self,” through his personal and professional life.

“He believed that the service we give to others is the service we give to God,” Lariviere said.

That included his service to the International Hindi Association. Chand played a key role in bringing the IHA’s 15th convention to the Cleveland-Akron area this past weekend. At the time of his unexpected death, he had been listed as “convener” of the event, which featured educational workshops and entertainment promoting India’s cultural heritage.

“Dr. Mahadeo Chand committed his life to the pious cause of social services in various forms,” Anoop and Anju Kapoor wrote on Chand’s memorial website.

Anoop Kapoor took over as convener after Chand’s death.

“Personally, he impressed me with his tenacity, infinite dedication and incessantly working for social causes till the very end of his life,” Kapoor said.

The convention was dedicated to Chand “to pay homage to his soul.”

Chand’s legacy should continue through his children and grandchildren. He taught them how to give back to the community.

“He led by example,” granddaughter Ankur said. “He didn’t tell you how to do things. He showed you how to live.”