David Raj (1951 – 2013)


David Raj, a community minded activist and financial advisor, passed away on Saturday, September 28 in Chennai, India where he had returned to four weeks earlier to be in the care of his sister and her family. He had suffered with stomach cancer for the past two years.

Raj was born on November 29, 1951 in Chennai where his father Gmanamirthraj was the General Secretary of the YMCA and his mother Stella Soundarraj was a Professor at Queen Mary’s College. In Chennai, Raj studied at the Christian College High School, then got a BA in English Literature from Loyola College followed by a MA in English from Presley College. He came to the Braniff School of Management at the University of Dallas in Irving to get his MBA in 1976.

He returned to India and worked at the Indian Overseas Bank in New Delhi and was transferred to Hong Kong in 1987, quitting after two years to work as the General Manager for a Sindhi import-export company for six years, dealing with China, South America, Australia and Europe. When he saw an opportunity, he went into business for himself, shipping breakable cargo of granite from India to China and Hong Kong.

After he received his Green Card in 2001, Raj decided to come to New York and came to Houston six months later and joined AXA Insurance. He later joined American Express, which spun him off with the new Ameriprise Financial Services in 2003. He later moved to Merrill Lynch.

Though he participated in community functions, it wasn’t till 2010 when he became a Director of the Indo American Charity Foundation that he channeled all his energy into helping those less fortunate. He served as the President of IACF in 2012 and started the Education Initiative, and also later a non-profit called iEducate which he launched this August to mentor young elementary school students in their classrooms in math and science.

About the same time, two years ago, David learnt that he had Stage 4B stomach cancer and went through a radical procedure that effectively removed the majority of his stomach. He continued his life with his usual passion and gusto: playing guitar with his band at his 60th birthday party two years ago in November, visiting friends and relatives overseas; traveling to foreign destinations. And always with his infectious laugh, with sparkling white teeth, the shoulder length hair he preferred and wide brimmed eyes.

He is survived by his daughter Hera of Sydney, Australia; brother Daniel in Houston and sisters in India. He also leaves behind a Houston community full of friends who will remember him for his generous heart and the humanitarian that he was. A memorial service to Raj is planned on Sunday, October 6 at 6pm at India House, 8888 West Bellfort, Houston, TX 77031.