Opinion Deva Sherma: Retired Prof, Champ Race Walker Dies

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1947-2014 (Archived)
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By Wesley Young | Journal Reporter

Published: August 28, 2010

Bhag Singh Sidhu was born in India to a farmer and was the first in his family to get an education.

He won a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship to attend Cornell University, where he received a doctorate in botany.

Sidhu worked for the United Nations in the Philippines as a plant-breeding expert and in 1969 came back to the U.S. to teach at Winston-Salem State University.

Sidhu, 81, died on Sunday at his home after a battle with cancer.

Sidhu liked to run. He started because he had to walk to school, and as he became older he became competitive. He represented India in the 1953 Asian Games in race walking and held the Asian record in the sport. In later years, he won medals in the International Senior Games, the World Masters Games and the North America and Caribbean World Association of Veteran Athletes.

He also founded a high school in his home village in India.

"I think he lived the life of 10 people," said Navjeet Sidhu-Malik, his daughter.

His Sikh faith gave him acceptance of his condition as he weakened, his daughter said. The funeral is 11 a.m. today at Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel.

Sidhu-Malik said that her father always had a strong competitive streak, but when he had the opportunity to go to the Olympics he chose instead to continue his education.

His daughter said that Sidhu would finish a long day by going out and "doing his laps."

Locally, he was active with the Sikh community and was one of the founders of the Atlantic Coast Sikh Association.

Deva Sherma, a retired physics professor at WSSU, said that Sidhu's attention to students often went beyond teaching.

"I heard many reports that he was an excellent teacher," Sherma said. "He cared for the students. He was very nice, because if someone needed gas money he would give them some money.

"Being from Cornell, he was a top-notch scientist. We enjoyed his company."

wyoung@wsjournal.com

http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2010/aug/28/retired-prof-champ-race-walker-dies/

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