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Jitendra Kumar (J.K.) Singh

Died: September 5, 2019

Jitendra Kumar (J.K.) Singh, a man of action, died in September 2019, mourned by his widow, Rita Singh, daughters Natasha Singh Sinha and Sipra Singh, and granddaughter Jaana Sinha.

The only Indian in our class, J.K. studied metallurgy. After Yale, he flew several types of aircraft for the Indian Air Force and participated in the liberation of Bangladesh. Striking out on his own again, J.K. resigned from the Air Force (an unusual step) to become active in commerce, starting a sugar mill on a family estate. After this learning experience, he ventured into pharmaceuticals, shoes, shipping, aviation, and finally steel and mining.

J.K. married Rita Singh in 1969; they had two daughters who became officers of the Mesco Group, the steel, mining, and aerospace conglomerate that J.K. founded. For a time, Rita held an elected office, an adventure that became embroiled with the vicissitudes of her party. In a presentation at our 45th reunion and writing for our 50th, which he also attended, J.K. noted “Though India is a vibrant democracy, it is still not matured in dealing with dissent and opposition. So we have decided to forego politics and channel our energies into philanthropy.”

Although partially paralyzed falling from a horse in England in 1982, J.K. remained active and upbeat. The program for his funeral service notes, “With a twinkle and naughty gleam in his eyes, laughing hilariously, he was an Explorer, an Adventurer, a Philosopher, and a Tourist to this world.”

 

– Roger Putzel


Remembrances

Jitendra Kumar Singh

James Luce writes: “Adding to Roger’s comments, I knew J.K. well his Freshman year. His love of speed and danger was as intense as his disdain for academics. He definitely was not a typical white-shoe boy. I’ll never forget the ride back from The Game on 24 Nov 62 in an immense Buick he’d borrowed from somebody. Ninety mph was his cruising speed all the way in heavy traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike. He claimed he had diplomatic immunity so he couldn’t be arrested for reckless driving. Teller of tall tales was one of his endearing qualities. Toward the end of the school year, he signed up to join George Ackley and me as a roommate for Sophomore year at Silliman. We found out in September that he’d flunked out, not to be seen again, at least by me, until the 50th Reunion. I note that the website of his company, Mesco Group, shows him as graduating Yale in 1966. As noted, J.K. streaked through life without much concern for reality but with great gusto.