Ashoke Kumar Banerji

Ashoke Kumar Banerji, age 88 of Gainesville, FL formerly of Kolkata, India, passed away on Thursday July 25, 2019 at E.T. York Hospice Care Center in Gainesville. Ashoke was born on October 30, 1930 in Kolkata, India to Manoj Mohan Banerji and Protima Banerji. Ashoke’s family was originally from Uttarpara, a suburb of Kolkata. However, he grew up in Cuttack, where his dad was a professor of Electrical Engineering. Ashoke attended Stewart School and Ravenshaw College at Cuttack before being admitted to the Indian School of Mines (ISM), the premier mining engineering school in India. He graduated in 1952 and worked for the Coal Board until 1973 when the coal industry was nationalized. He later attended Newcastle University in the UK and graduated in 1968 with Master of Science in Mining Engineering. He taught as a Visiting Professor in the Metallurgical Engineering Department at Jadavpur University from 1969-1970. He retired as Chief General Manager in Mine Safety from Coal India Limited in 1988. He was a senior member of the ISM Alumni Association, as well as the Mining and Metallurgical Institute of India (MGMI). Ashoke lived during significant historical times. He was 17 when India gained her independence from British rule. He witnessed the freedom struggle at the grassroots level such as the calls by Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and others to boycott foreign goods and promote India’s path to self-determination. He belonged to the inaugural class of a school started by a freedom fighter where the medium of instruction was Bangla, the indiginous langauge of the region. The school was short-lived as the founder and the only teacher was arrested in front of his students and taken away by British police. He also lived through the World War II period as the British were still ruling India at that time. When he attended Newcastle University, he witnessed the visit of Martin Luther King Jr. who was awarded an honorary degree – the only UK university to do so during his lifetime. During his time in England, he also experienced the musical revolution of the times with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Monkees. Ashoke had a variety of interests and hobbies. He was an avid reader, photographer, and a traveller. He was particularly a lover of Rabindranath Tagore’s works and followed some of the philosophical principles expressed in those works in his personal life. He often recited Tagore’s poems and won accolades as a young boy in school reciting some of these poems. He also loved to cook, sew, gardening, carpentry, house related repairs, and carrelated repairs. He spent some of his free time involved as an active production director and designer of Tagore dance-dramas and ballets. He is preceded in death by his wife Monica Banerji, and his brother Deepak Kumar Banerjee. He is survived by his daughter Rimjhim Banerjee-Batist, his son-in-law Carlos Batist, his son Kingshuk Banerji, his daughter-in-law Suchitra Banerji, his grandson Utsav Saxena, grand daughter-in-law Parnika Saxena, granddaughter Rani Melanie Batist, grandson Alec Ridoy Banerji, and his two great-granddaughters Urvashi and Paheli Saxena. He was an extremely well-respected colleague and a loved family member known for his positivity and wit.

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