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In Memoriam
Kali S. Banerjee

July 17, 2002--Kali S. Banerjee, a member of the University of Delaware statistics faculty from 1969-79 and H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Statistics from 1975-79, died April 9, 2002, at the age of 87.

Born in Dacca, Bangladesh, he came to the United States in 1962 and became a naturalized citizen in 1974. He earned his bachelor’s degree in math and his master’s and doctoral degrees in statistics from Calcutta University. Before joining the UD faculty, he taught at Cornell and Kansas State universities.

Dr.Banerjee received the University’s excellence-in-teaching award in 1972, and he was named a fellow of the Royal Statistics Society in London in 1975.

A member of several professional societies, he was the author of five monographs and more than 95 articles.

His son, Deb Banerjee, sent the following reminiscence:

My father, Kali S. Banerjee, former U.D. professor, died April 9, 2002. His health was in decline since January of last year when he suffered a stroke. He had wanted to go back to India and spend his remaining days there.

Outside his family, statistics was my dad’s love and hobby. And, he was a bit disappointed that no one in the family took up statistics. Growing up, I used to see him with his books, journals, notepad and pen. When the rest of us were asleep, he would still be at it. My dad related to me on more than one occasion an incident that occurred to him when a friend’s daughter studying statistics came to him for guidance. He spent some hours on his favorite subject with her. The next day the friend told my dad the young woman had commented on my dad, saying that she had met a scientist. And, the comment about the “scientist” made his day. He related this story a few more times to me over the years.

I cannot tell you whether his scientific work made any difference, only his peers can. But, each time a fellow statistician quoted his work, he would get excited. And, whenever his paper was accepted for publication, the glee was such of a little boy getting a new ball. I cannot tell you how good a teacher he was, only his students can relate. But I remember sitting in one of classes as an observer and saw him going up and down the rows of seats, frequently running to the blackboard to make a point. I was a bit embarrassed until I saw the intense attention of his students. And, as my mother once related to me, in one of his blackboard exuberances he scrapped his knuckles badly enough to require Band-Aids. He was disappointed that no one in his family took up statistics. He wanted to give his collection of journals and books to someone within the family. Eventually, those prized possessions went to his friends and university libraries.

In certain ways, my dad was an enigma to me. He could not decide whether to remain a bureaucrat with the Indian government or become a teacher here in the United States. My mother, my sister and I went back and forth between India and the States before he decided. He started his teaching career as a visiting professor at Cornell University. But, he finally made the decision to remain a teacher when he re-joined Kansas State University. He stayed there a short time before moving onto to the University of Delaware. It is here he spent some of the best years, according to him. In semi-retirement, he was briefly at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and University Of Maryland-Baltimore County.

He was a loving elder brother who became a surrogate father to my aunts and uncles when my grandfather died at an early age. He was a man whose word could be counted on. Once given, he would not break it. My sister and I learned from him the words, “man of principle.” He never learned how to drive because my mother prevented him since she thought he was absent minded. He commented several times that he should have learned to drive.

I think my dad would like to be remembered as a grandfather, father, husband, father-in-law, brother, friend, teacher and a scientist. He was a grandfather to my nieces and my kids, a father-in-law to my sister’s husband and my wife, a husband to my mother, a father to my sister and me. And, we miss him.