HomeAsian AmericansLongtime professor, South Asian author Kamal Verma passes away

Longtime professor, South Asian author Kamal Verma passes away

Kamal D. Verma, a longtime professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and distinguished scholar of South Asian literature, passed away at the age of 91 last Sunday.

Verma, who was going to turn 92 in April, was with his family during his passing, the Tribune-Democrat reported. 

“Dr. Verma was a towering figure who had an impact on so many,” said Verma’s family to The Tribune-Democrat. “He fought for Indian independence, paved the way for South Asian scholars and literature in the United States and cared for his family and friends at every turn.”

Born in 1932 in Punjab, India, Verma was the oldest of his siblings and the first member of his family to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Dayanand Anglo-Vedic University in India, according to the Tribune-Democrat.

In 1953, two years after he earned a bachelor’s degree, Verma received a second bachelor’s degree for teaching at the former Agra University and later his master’s degree in English at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India, in 1958. 

In 1971, Tribune-Democrat reported, Verma and his family moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where he became a staff member at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He taught at the institution for 42 years. 

After working with thousands of students and retiring from his job at the college, Verma became an adviser to Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar. He also served as an editor for the publication he founded, the South Asian Review, according to Tribune-Democrat.

“Faculty and staff members remember a most gracious and kind-hearted man, a wise and thoughtful colleague, a very generous friend, a gentleman – a great human being! We are thankful for the life, contributions, exceptional service, and tremendous legacy of Dr. Kamal Verma, an extraordinary man,” said Spectar in a statement from the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown

Verma married Savitri Verma in 1957, who together raised five children in Pennsylvania. Verma later moved to Bethesda, Maryland, in 2013, according to his obituary on Dignity Memorial. While retired, he wrote a critically acclaimed book about a famous Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand, which he published in 2018. 

“An amazing role model, with courage and heart, he was a loving and committed husband, father and grandfather, giving everything he had to the betterment and empowerment of his nuclear and extended family and friends,” said Verma’s family to The Tribune-Democrat.

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