Jamnu Hariram Tahiliani

Jamnu Hariram Tahiliani passed away peacefully on July 23, 2023 at the age of 87 years.

He was surrounded by his loving family–his wife of 58 years, Savitri Tahiliani, his three daughters (Nisha, Meena, and Priya), their spouses (Sundram, Gaurav, and Craig), his seven grandchildren (Shiv, Shaila, Shalni, Rohan, Asha, Addie, and Veer), and several of his brothers, nieces, nephews.

In his last days, he was also surrounded by many of his friends who even arranged a musical tribute in his honor just two days before his death; and he surprised them all by joining in and signing one of his own favorite songs. Everyone who knew Jamnu knew how much he loved music and singing, especially alongside his wife.

Jamnu was generous, witty, and gregarious, traits that were obvious to all even after a single meeting with him. In his last years, he enjoyed his retirement at Priya Living, a South Asian senior living center in Santa Clara, California, where he was an active participant in daily activities such as card games, karaoke, and laughing yoga. Most of all, he enjoyed sitting in the courtyard amongst his friends, cutting jokes and telling stories of a life very well lived.

Jamnu was born on February 20, 1936, in Tando Allah- yar, Sindh, the fourth of eight sons of Hariram Hazarimal Tahiliani and Bhagwani Hariram Tahiliani. In 1943, Jamnu and his family moved to Baroda where he and his brothers attended Rosary High School. Jamnu and his brothers consistently came in first in their respective classes. The school saw so much promise in the Tahiliani boys that they refused to allow them to withdraw after their father’s untimely death and worked with their widowed mother to ensure that she could afford their tuition. This was a kindness that Jamnu did not forget, as demonstrated by the scholarship that he and his brothers established and the new high school auditorium to which Jamnu was a generous contributor.

After high school, Jamnu attended Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) where he was as successful in university as he was in high school. While earning his degree in civil engineering, he excelled in his academics, athletics and extracurriculars – he represented the MSU College of Engineering and Architecture in the intercollegiate debating competition; won several cross country races; was the doubles ring tennis champion three years in a row (and nationally ranked); and became the secretary of the Hiking Club, for which he fundraised and organized a hike to Milan Glacier in the Himalayas. Amongst all his many achievements, Jamnu was most proud that he was elected as the Joint Secretary of the MSU Student Body of over 25,000 students. Although he was the underdog with the least financial resources, he struck up a financial deal with local shops to advertise their companies on his election flyers. Not only did he bring a struggling ice cream shop and a newly established pen factory the business that they desired from the MSU student body, but he also won the election in a landslide.

This was an early demonstration of the entrepreneurial spirit that would one day lead him to achieving the American dream.

After graduation, Jamnu worked as an Assistant Engineer at the Bhilai Steel Project before being selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to lead the Dantak Task Force in road construction in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Jam- nu was uniquely qualified for such a unique task given his engineering degree and his experience hiking the Milan Glacier, and as a result, he spent three and a half years designing and building roads in Bhutan. When the project was complete, he was transferred to Delhi where he worked in the Ministry of Transport as Executive Engineer before leaving India to come to the United States.

Jamnu moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1969 and was joined a year later by his wife and eldest daughter Nisha. While he earned a masters degree in Civil Engineering, with concentration in Structural Design, from Memphis State University, he also worked at the structural engineering firm Wooten Smith & Weiss. 10 years later, in 1979, he took the leap and established his own structural consulting firm, Tahiliani & Associates.

The business thrived and eventually Jamnu was a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in 28 of the 50 states, highly sought after by clients and highly respected by his fellow engineers and architects. To his colleagues, he was known for his pragmatic efficiency and flair for creative design. To his employees, he was known to be compassionate and generous, always encouraging and investing in their educations and licensures while also celebrating their personal and familial accomplishments. He owned and operated his firm for 22 years, and when his employees refused the offer of ownership, he sold it in 2002.

In addition to founding his own business, Jamnu was also one of the founding members of the Indian Association of Memphis (IAM) and the India Cultural Center and Temple (ICCT) of Memphis. When Jamnu arrived in Memphis there were only four Indian families in the area and the closest Hindu temple was three hours away in Nashville. By the time he left Memphis in 2017, the IAM had hundreds of members, and the ICCT, with the help of his contributions and the donation of his structural engineering expertise, had built a Hindu temple on a plot of land that he helped choose in the greater Memphis area. He remained a lifetime member, contributor, and trustee until the end.

From humble beginnings as one of eight sons raised by a single mother, he went on to create a legacy that will outlive him. In India and in America, he built roads, bridges, a business, schools, churches, a Hindu temple, a beautiful family, and a fulfilled life. We will miss Jamnu–our father, our husband, our brother, our uncle, and our friend–more than words can say.

Services were held on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at 10 a.m. at Alameda Family Funeral and Creation at 12341 Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd., Saratoga, CA 95070. To watch live or to watch and/or download at a later time, use the following link: https://vimeo.com/event/3589386/f71bacbb67. To view or contribute to the online memorial, visit https://www.forevermissed.com/jamnuhariramtahiliani/about.

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