Nita Mehta, a Tireless, Cheerful Community Worker Passes

Nita Mehta

Nita Mehta 1929-2017

HOUSTON: Even as the years slowed her down physically, her spirit was indomitable and she marched on, finally with the aid of a walker, which she said “was a necessary nuisance”. After her husband Padmakanth grew feebler, she would often drive him to meetings and around town.

Until a few years ago, Nita ben (as everyone called her) would drive herself, especially to her beloved meetings of the Indian Senior Citizens Association at Bayland Community Center or India House where she would still make a point to mingle with the faces she knew and help out where she could.

That same tireless, cheerful worker, Nita Padmakant Mehta, 87, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.  The daughter of the late Shantilal B. Pandya and Lilavati S. Pandya, she was born in Dohad, Gujarat, India on December 29, 1929.

Nita was the eldest of nine brothers and sisters and helped raise her siblings.  She studied medicine in India and Ireland and became a practicing physician, a rarity for a woman in 1950’s India.   In 1958, she married her future life-long companion, the late Padmakant C. Mehta.  She successfully ran a clinic in India before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Padmakant and their two young sons in support of his engineering career.

Well into her thirties and unable to work as a physician with her Indian degree in America, Nita let no obstacle stand in her way in making a home for herself in her adopted country.  She immediately set about the task of re-training herself, obtaining a degree as a Respiratory Therapist and worked, ultimately, as a Critical Care Coordinator in Philadelphia and at MD Anderson Cancer Center for over thirty years.  

Nita was a very outgoing person and involved throughout the Houston Indian community.  She was instrumental in forming the Indian Senior Citizens Association of Houston, Houston Nagar Mandal, and the Indian Doctor’s Charity Clinic, and held leadership positions in many organizations, including Gujarati Samaj.  Her involvement in these community associations gave her happiness and meaning.  Even as Nita grew older and her mobility became limited, she looked forward to attending programs and events sponsored by the Sahitya Sabha literature group, the Indian Senior Citizens Association, Chinmaya Mission, and Gujarati Samaj.

Nita is survived by son Pranav, 52, of Houston, son Utpal, 50, and daughter-in-law Samita (Seema) who currently live in Beijing, China, and grandson, Naren, of Rockville, Maryland.  Her surviving brothers  are Girish Pandya of Houston; Sirish Pandya of Ahmedabad, India; Praful Pandya of Dahod, India; Haresh Pandya of Johnstown, PA. and Himanshu Pandya of Ebensburg, PA, and sister, Darshana Jambusaria of Sherman Oaks, California.  She was preceded in death by sisters Saroj Vyas of Mumbai, India and Ranjan Vyas of Mahuva, India. Nita leaves behind countless friends and family throughout the U.S., India, and Canada.

Funeral services were held on Monday, October 16, 2017 at the Garden Oaks Funeral Home in Houston, Texas and attended by over 350 people. Many of her lifelong admirers gave loving eulogies to her.