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February 18, 1939 ~ December 6, 2023 (age 84) 84 Years Old
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Kunjan Pillai of Decatur, Georgia, passed away Wednesday, December 6, 2023. Mr. Pillai was born in the village of Kudayathoor, Kerala, India in February 1939, the second of four children of Krishna Pillai and his wife Pappuamma. He was the first member of his family to attend college and became a founding pillar of the Malayali community when he arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thanksgiving Day, 1967, to assume a position in the radiology department at Case Western Reserve University. Mr. Pillai built a distinguished career in medical physics over the following 40 years, widely celebrated among his colleagues and friends for both his unassuming brilliance and personal warmth.
Mr. Pillai’s professional diligence was surpassed only by his devotion to his family—as a loving husband to his wife Usha and father to his children Satish and Parvathy and as the moral lodestone for an extended family of dozens stretching from North America to India. Mr. Pillai’s duty to his family was always his utmost priority and he discharged those duties without fail or fanfare till his last day. For his family and all those who knew him, he demonstrated every day—even in the face of daunting challenges to his health—the virtues we should all strive to practice: loyalty, honesty, humility, curiosity, perseverance, self-discipline, patience, and dignity.
Mr. Pillai possessed a dry wit, and his family will treasure forever decades of memories of sitting around the family room table in the home he made in Solon, Ohio, trading jokes or watching the travails of his Cleveland sports teams. He cherished hearing about his grandchildren’s exploits,
both in the classroom and the arts, as well as their daily silliness. He had a lifelong interest in politics, and even in his last weeks followed current affairs in both his homes—India and the United States—closely. In his post-retirement years, he cherished the opportunities he had to travel with his wife and family, including to the summit of a glacier in
Alaska and by train from Nebraska to Salt Lake City. A lover of nature, he loved both traveling through Yellowstone National Park and sitting quietly on the veranda of his Decatur home watching the hummingbirds.
He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Usha Pillai; his devoted children, Satish Pillai of Decatur and Parvathy Pillai (and her husband Sushant Srinivasan) of Madison, Wisconsin; six grandchildren: Jay, Rohin, Rayan, Suri, Sana, and Shayn; a sister, Pappyamma, and two brothers, Balan and Chandran (Unni); and cousins, nieces, nephews, and others who loved him too numerous to name.
Family and friends will receive visitors at Byrd and Flanigan at 288 Hurricane Shoals Road NE, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Friday, December 8, 2023. A memorial service and cremation rite will follow at 10:30 AM. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make donations in Mr. Pillai’s memory to a charity of their choice.