In Loving Memory of Abhi Patil
Abhi Patil passed away suddenly due to a heart attack on March 27th, 2020. We are shocked and devastated. We would like to take a moment to share some of Abhi’s accomplishments and what he meant to us.
Abhi grew up in a small town in Maharashtra, India where he still holds the high school's academic record. He was passionate about education and relentless in his pursuit of academic excellence. He placed first in his Master’s program at Pune University and received his Ph.D. in Organic/Polymer Chemistry from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. This is where he met, fell in love with, and married Anjali, who still remembers exactly what they were both wearing when he first walked up to her on campus. They moved to the US where he worked with Professor David Curtin on solid-state organic chemistry as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Anura was born during this time in Illinois. He went on to be a research scientist at the Institute for Polymers and Organic Solids at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he discovered the first water-soluble conducting polymers and synthesized novel self-doped conducting polymers with Professors Fred Wudl and Alan Heeger (2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry).
A promising position at ExxonMobil brought the family to New Jersey, where Ojus was born. We developed a strong, supportive community -- celebrating birthdays, graduations, mother’s & father’s days, Diwalis, and weddings together. Over the next 30+ years, Abhi built an impactful career at ExxonMobil and was deeply honored by the respect of his peers. He made countless friends and worked to build up the next generation of scientists by mentoring colleagues and interns. Abhi always looked forward to patent & publication dinners and Long Range & CRC meetings.
Abhi strongly believed in the power of education to empower and elevate. He loved exploring the world one bite and step at a time from Paris to Cape Town. He relished in good food and sharing it with the people he loved. He also cared deeply about meditation and the power of the mind as an avid practitioner of vipassana meditation for 20 years.
We are proud that Abhi’s legacy will live on through his scientific achievements in addition to the people he has touched. He found great joy in approaching complex technical challenges with creativity and ingenuity. He has 110 issued US patents (with more coming!) and over 80 publications. He organized 5 National ACS symposia and co-edited 2 books. He was recognized as a fellow by both the POLY and PMSE divisions of ACS and was invited to speak at the Smithsonian about innovation. He loved attending talks and asking the hardest question in the room to push forward collective thinking. He loved what he did and even worked on two patent memos hours before he went to the hospital on March 25th.
While all this is true, to us, he was a brilliant, inspirational, funny, and loving dad and husband of almost 40 years. He was who we went to for advice, stories, and guidance. He taught us how to ride a bike and helped us with our science homework. Whether with a dry joke, inspirational quote or smile, he supported and encouraged us. He taught us that we belonged at every seat and at every table. He taught us to follow our dreams and be fearless in our intellectual ambitions. He was always there to catch us. He combined humility and pride, science and creativity, honesty and kindness. We love him and will miss him deeply.
He was not someone to dwell on something sad. He was always moving forward, inventing, creating, dreaming, and inspiring. As such, we will announce a celebration of his life at a later date. From the outpouring of love and support we have received over the last few days, we know Abhi has touched more lives than we realized.
If you are hoping to do more in honor of Abhi prior to the celebration of life, please feel free to donate to a charity of your choice in Abhi's honor. Please do not send flowers or gifts. We are all grieving, but feel well supported by this community.
We would love for you to add photos, memories, funny stories or jokes you have of Abhi to this google drive. Please share images/documents/etc with the file name format YYYY - title - your name (example: 2019 Thanksgiving Anura). We are finding solace in sharing the happy memories of our dad and it would be a great comfort to us to share in your memories as well.
Please pass this along to friends and colleagues we may have missed. If this was forwarded to you, please fill out this form with your name and email so we can contact you when the time comes.
Anura and Ojus
(A letter from his children)