Dr. Nirmal Kumar Shastri, age 92, died peacefully on March 12, 2023. Born at the ancestral home in Benares, India, he made his home for the last 56 years in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
His life led him on quite the journey across half a world and almost a century. He was born on May 30, 1930, son of Ganesh Dutt Shastri and Gowri Pant. In 1959, he completed a Ph.D. in chemistry at Allahabad University and began his teaching career at Meerut College. As a young man, he was lauded for his investigative skills as a researcher and his excellent squash and tennis skills.
Yet wanderlust pulled him towards a postdoc in Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1960. He delighted in his new culture. He quickly discovered that you should not buy gas for your car during a Razorback game and that you should not be looking for the Himalayas when northwest Arkansans talk about the Boston Mountains.
He married the love of his life, Hope Sixbey, in 1965 and settled in North Little Rock. Nirmal was a professor of chemistry at Philander Smith College, and taught summer courses at Little Rock University and University of Central Arkansas. He later worked for the Veterans Administration. He was a teacher at heart and often gave presentations on Indian culture or chemistry at local area schools.
He is survived by his wife, Hope, his children Ananda Shastri (Chizuko), Laurel Shastri (Karl Schaffer), Maya Shastri (Peter Collings), and five grandchildren. Family and friends will remember him for his love of books, his recipes evoking the food from his Indian childhood, his joy in excessive use of puns, birdwatching, and his stories of India.
Cremation by A Natural State Funeral Service & Crematory, 2620 West Main Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas, 72076. 501-982-3400. www.anaturalstatefuneralservice.com