Gokaldas "George" Parikh

gokaldas parikh

July 22, 1932 ~ November 18, 2023

Born in: Kapadwanj, India
Resided in: North Haven, CT

Gokaldas “George” Parikh, 91, of North Haven passed away suddenly on November 18, 2023 at Yale New Haven Hospital. Born in Kapadwanj, India on July 22, 1932, he was the eldest child of the late Chandulal and Chandrakanta (Desai) Parikh. George is survived by his wife of almost sixty years, Josephine (Jo Ann) Parikh; his daughters, Leila Binder of Virginia Beach and Nimmi Sharma (Narendra) of North Haven; his grandchildren Steven Christopher Binder, Michael Scott Binder (Isabel), Annabeth Evelyn Binder, Isabel Chandra Sharma and Juliet Marie Sharma; a great-granddaughter, Evelyn June Binder; his brother Hamendra Parikh of Bronx, NY; his sister Gita Talati of Chicago and several very dear cousins, nieces and nephews. George was predeceased by two younger sisters, Dhanlaxmi Shah and Jashavanti Mehta, and by two brothers, Mahesh, who died as a young child, and an unnamed infant.

After receiving a bachelor’s in microbiology degree from St. Xavier’s College of the University of Bombay, George worked at Arrey Milk Colony and Nagpur Medical College in India from 1954 to 1956. He left India in May of 1956 (with less than 100 dollars to his name) with a fellowship offered to him by Dr. Albert Milzer to work as a researcher at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago to find a polio vaccine. The research team at the hospital, led by Dr. Milzer, were the first ever to kill the polio virus and develop an effective polio vaccine. He later juggled graduate work at Southern Illinois University with service in the U.S. Army reserve and National Guard. Barely making the weight and height requirements for service in the National Guard, he would quip to his sergeant that he came from India to help the U.S. Army. He was very proud of his military service and would often recount tales of basic training and of helping with his regiment in numerous natural disasters. After receiving his doctorate degree at Southern Illinois University in 1963, he moved to Virginia to work at Melpar, where he met his future wife, Jo Ann.  After their marriage, they embarked on an extensive almost one-year honeymoon trip on a freighter, which slowly wended its way across the Atlantic through the Mediterranean to India, where they met his family, and subsequently travelled by train from one end of India to the other. Returning broke and jobless to the US, George and Jo Ann settled down in a trailer in Brookings, South Dakota, where George found a job teaching at South Dakota State University. He loved teaching his students, going on field trips across the state to bleed pheasants, horses, guinea pigs and mice to check for viruses, and seeing the students from this rural section of the country that he had trained in research succeed at the highest levels of academia. George and Jo Ann moved in the mid-1970s to Connecticut, where George was to make a lifetime commitment to train students and build the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Quinnipiac University, serving at various times as professor, as Director of the Graduate Program, as Dean and then retiring at the age of 70 as Professor Emeritus. During his long professional career, he was awarded several grants, authored numerous research papers and obtained multiple patents.

George was a devout servant of God and a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather. He cared for his elderly mother-in-law and father in his home for several years until their deaths. He was the first in his family to attend college. He was the trailblazer for his siblings, encouraging his family members to come to the US for further studies and sponsoring their immigration/visas. He loved his country, family and everyone he met. He would sit next to a stranger, and start with a smile and a nod, strike up a conversation, and soon have a good friend. He was relentlessly curious and lived his mantra of “Learn Something New Every Day.” He shared his knowledge with others. After his retirement he continued his teaching of the next generations, educating his young grandchildren, Isabel and Juliet, who lived next door, about anatomy, mosquito viruses, history and more. Juliet remembers her grandfather as a kind man who only cared about the feelings and happiness of others, and who put these things before his own wants and needs. He only wanted everyone around him to be happy and kind to themselves and to one another. His love of learning inspired everyone he met to learn more about the world around them. He loved everyone and everything, and, in turn, everyone loved him. Many people looked to him as a source of inspiration, wisdom and kindness. They sought him out for advice, which he always felt compelled to give, and for help with their problems, which he always felt responsible to solve. Isabel recalls her grandfather as the most positive, optimistic person she has ever met. Whatever life sent to him he would look for a way to see the positive in it and whatever circumstance he was in, he would find the opportunities for good. Through embracing his positivity even in the hardest of times we can carry on what he taught us. His enthusiasm was contagious. He would, as soon as he saw one of his grandchildren, always ask her “Are you happy? Are you peppy?” and wait for her to respond “I am happy! I am peppy!” He would exclaim with joy to hear Juliet’s piano sonata and eagerly spend days teaching her elder sister, Isabel, dissection techniques. He lived to help others, always coming up with an idea to support those around him, volunteering at his church and Rotary club, and donating for those in need. He was always there for his loved ones with support and encouragement in times of trouble and enthusiastic joy in times of celebration. He faced all things in life with optimism and faith. He had mastered the secret to a long and joyous life. He will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew him.

Friends may attend his Funeral Service on Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green, 230 Temple St., New Haven, CT. In lieu of flowers contributions in his memory may be made to the Organ Fund of Trinity Church on the Green/Office, 950 Chapel St., Floor 2, New Haven, CT 06510 or to the Hamden Rotary Club, P.O. Box 185304, Hamden, CT 06518.


Funeral Service: November 25, 2023 11:00 am

Trinity Church on the Green
230 Temple Street
New Haven, CT 06511


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