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Obituary of Jaswant Singh
It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Dr. Jaswant Singh Hoonjan on May 16, 2020 at his home in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is survived by his loving spouse of 51 years, Jasjit Kaur and his beloved daughter, Amardeep Kaur Gill, son-in-law Harjit Singh Gill and his pride and joy, his granddaughter Maya Kaur Gill.
Dr. Singh was born on May 20, 1932 in Jagraon, Punjab with his 9 siblings: Malkit Singh, Charn Singh, Jasmail Singh (deceased), Kulwant Singh, Pushwinder Singh, Charanjit Kaur, Malkit Kaur, Parmjit Kaur, Surinder Kaur (deceased). He left India for England by way of Italy and France in 1960 and taught in East London for 3 years before emigrating to Canada in 1964. He taught social science and Canadian history in Silver Lake and Edmonton, Alberta, while working on his graduate degree in Geography from the University of Alberta. In 1970, he and the family moved to Michigan. He received a full scholarship from Western Michigan University, settling in Kalamazoo, Michigan; where he completed his PhD Library Science.
Dr. Singh retired as Director of Education for the State of Michigan and moved back to Punjab, India in 1983 where he lectured at the University of Patiala. His time in Punjab was cut short due to the civil unrest when he returned to Lansing, Michigan in 1986 and recently moved to NJ to be with his daughter, Amardeep.
Dr. Singh’s passion for books and furthering oneself through education was left etched in those that he met. As an educator, he was the proud recipient of the Elizabeth Siddall Award from the Michigan Education Association along with the Loy Lasalle Award issued by the United Nations Association for his efforts to enrich Global Education.
Although Dr. Singh’s efforts to enact a Public Library Act, in the State of Punjab fell short due to bureaucracy and government politics that did not stop him from establishing Punjab’s first public bookmobile in 1986. Funded primarily through his family inheritance, his own personal retirement funds, and help from family and friends he founded the Anant Memorial Charitable Trust, in memory of his father and worked tirelessly to fight illiteracy in his home state.
Dr. Jaswant Singh had an innate ability to connect with people of all ages, especially children. He will be remembered as a loving and caring man, with a zest for life, who had a love for reading, continuous learning and teaching. He was immensely proud of his family, most of whom emigrated to the US and Canada; and seeing their accomplishments was a great source of joy for him. He embodied the Sikh saying of “chardi kala”, which translates to remaining in a state of eternal optimism and joy. We will miss him tremendously.
For those who wish, donations in his memory may be made to the good work of the Anant Education & Rural Development Foundation, Inc.4 Heather Court, Dover, NJ 07801.
Waheguruji Ka Khalsa, Waheguruji Ki Fateh
Our family wishes to thank our dear friend Jagtar Plaha for writing this thoughtful obituary.
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