Houston Mourns the Loss of Hari Kewalramani


By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Hari Kewalramani never carried a personal cell phone.  He was convinced that ginger was a cure all.  He coached his son’s soccer and baseball team – games he had never played in his life.  He was a marriage counselor and financial advisor to colleagues and friends, innovator, poet and author. He was an active member of the community who gave generously of his time, effort and money.  This humble and ever smiling gentleman was also the Global Executive Vice President of six offices in three continents.  These were some of the thoughts and memories that were shared by family, friends, colleagues and members of the community as they gathered at the Winford Funeral Home on 17 November to pay their last respects to a man who lost his life to esophageal cancer.

Hari Pamandas Kewalramani was born on March 6, 1941, in Kotri, Sindh, but the family moved to Ajmer, Rajasthan, when Sindh became a part of present day Pakistan.  In 1972, armed with an engineering degree, an adventurous spirit and some dollars in his pocket, Hari came to New York where he worked as an electrical engineer.

A few years later, he joined Bechtel Corporation and transferred to their Houston office in 1974. During this time he also obtained his MBA from the University of Houston.  In 1979, along with his family, Hari moved to Saudi Arabia but returned to the US in 1985.  In 1986, he joined Stone & Webster where he worked for almost 25 years until he retired as Global Executive Vice President.

A strong give-back philosophy led Hari to become actively involved with the Indian community in Houston.  He played a crucial role as overall coordinator in the Janmashtami celebration organized by the Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH). According to Padmakant Khambati, Hari “used his considerable engineering and organizational skills and ran the show with clockwork precision.” He also volunteered with the Meenakshi Temple Society, Hindus of Greater Houston, and most recently served on the India House executive board.  Dilip Mehta who worked closely with him described Hari as a person “who did not work for recognition or appreciation but worked for dharma.”

 In a heartfelt tribute, son Shashi described his father as “kind, patient, a cleanliness freak and a social butterfly.” According to Shashi, his father’s generosity extended not just to family and friends but total strangers. Rakesh Agarwal also remembered him as a “doer” while Mimi Chang, a colleague, called him “a wonderful boss and mentor to many.”

Speaking along the same lines, Ashok Khushlani affirmed that Hari exuded “positive energy and had a rare knack of connecting instantly with people.”  Harish, his nephew, reflected that his uncle had inherited the “Kewalramani trait of the thirst for knowledge, laughter and zest for life.” Reminiscing about a 20 year old association with Hari, Vijay Pallod lauded the entire Kewalramani family’s dedication and commitment to the Hindus of Greater Houston organization.

Despite a busy work schedule and many volunteering activities, Hari always found time for his family as well as his many talents and interests.  He loved painting, travelling, penned several poems in Hindi and Urdu and also published a book “2012 and Beyond.”

 Hari was cremated according to Hindu funeral rites. He is survived by wife Poonam, his daughter, Chanda – a physician, son Shashi – a lawyer, daughter in law Deepa, and his grandchildren – Karina and Avi.