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A Life Well Lived: Dr. Raj K. Chopra (1937-2015)

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SUGAR LAND: Born in India and educated at Punjab University, Dr. Raj K. Chopra began his career in education at the American School in New Delhi, India. It was here that he realized his desire to be an American and to live in “the land of milk and honey” where, “with hard work and determination, dreams can come true.”

He immigrated to the United States in 1969, arriving with his wife, two sons, fifty dollars, and a dream. He attended the Bowling Green State University where he received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees. He had a strong love for his alma mater and he never forgot the kindness and generosity of each person who believed in him and helped him succeed.

Dr. Chopra’s career in education spanned over 50 years. He was a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal and he served as Superintendent of Schools in six states: Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. He was the Superintendent of the Fort Bend ISD from August 1991 to July 1994 and at that was the highest ranked Indo-American public official in the Metroplex. He was known as an administrator who placed the interests of the students in the forefront when decisions were made. He truly believed that all children could learn and deserved the best from those who served them.

His passion for education was recognized with several awards for being the top 100 educators in North America. Even in the final days of his life, Dr. Chopra was proud of his career. “They didn’t always like me,” he said, “but I ALWAYS did what was right for the kids I served. I always did what was right for the kids.”

Dr. Chopra’s balance of work came through his love of family. He was the rock, the patriarch that held the family together. He was dad to three children of whom he was very proud and was the doting grandfather who loved his five grandchildren beyond words. Even at young ages, he shared with them his wisdom for life, his belief in hard work, and his expectation of always giving your best.

Although his life was blessed with success, he came from very humble beginnings. In 1947, at the age of ten, he lost his father to cancer and his maternal grandparents to senseless religious violence during the partition of India and Pakistan. His family became refugees as they fled for safety. His life both personally and professionally defied the odds that were stacked against him. He credited two women for his success: his grandmother who instilled in him at a young age the importance of education and believing in yourself; and his wife Sue, of fifty-one years, who was the silent strength behind his voice and the courage behind his endeavors.

Dr. Chopra was the life of the party and a vivacious man who lit up a room. His passion for life, his love for education, his keen desire to work hard and succeed, and his love for family and America will remain in his family for generations to come. And he was so proud to be an American.

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7 Responses to A Life Well Lived: Dr. Raj K. Chopra (1937-2015)

  1. Bruce Dalcher December 16, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I too was a student at AIS in New Delhi in the 1960s and had the pleasure of then-Mr Chopra’s guidance in sports classes. He was superb then, and although it is sad to learn of his death, it is wonderful to learn what a splendid life he lived. Well done, sir! Condolences to the family.

  2. Chris Arnold Sr. December 15, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    It is with great sadness to hear of the lost of life of Dr. Raj Chopra. He truly did what he felt was best for kids. Though it may have deemed him unliked by some he followed Hi pattern for righteousness! I liked him from the moment I met him, offering him water as he waited for his interview for Phoenix Union High School District. My regards to his wife Sue and family.

  3. Gary Ayers December 7, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Graduated from AIS in 1966. Played basketball and swam under his guidance and leadership. He was a great man and a person of honesty and integrity. I learned a lot about how to be a good human being under his coaching. I will miss him.

  4. Tina Thuermer December 7, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Mr. Chopra was always a figure of respect at the American International School in Delhi where he was a teacher, but it was so impressive to follow his career in education where he was able to effect, probably, thousands of lives. We need more educators like him.

  5. Dan Richardson December 6, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I knew Dr. Chopra as one of my teachers while I was a student at the American International School (AIS) in New Delhi. It does not surprise me that he did so well and was so grounded by his love of family…He treated us all very well and asked that we do our best. A kind and caring person. Like David mentioned, I wish I had known he was in the US and that he had even been in Kansas at one point in his career. My sincere thoughts and prayers to your family. He will be warmly remembered!

  6. David Worrall December 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Mr. choir a was my coach at AIS in Delhi. A very kind man. I wish I had known that he was close by in Texas. I would have enjoyed renewing the acquaintance. Sincere condolences to the family.

  7. Gregg Allen December 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Dr. Chopra was the Physical Education teacher at the American International School (AIS) in New Delhi during the mid 1960s. I was a student there at the time, and remember him well. Many years later, through an AIS alumni Facebook group, I learned that he had come to this country and made quite a name for himself in the field of education. I can’t help but feel pride in his accomplishments. Well done, Dr. Chopra. May you rest in peace.

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