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Amar Nath Bhattacharya taught in the ONU College of Pharmacy

How do you summarize a life in a few sentences? Some lives are covered using significant dates. Others, via family or work experience. For Amar Bhattacharya, his journey is best shared by chronicling the names he amassed over his lifetime.

Amar Nath Bhattacharya started out as "Bhondul" (meaning 'one who makes everything messy') on October 1, 1934 in what was then called Calcutta, India. Judging by his propensity to leave a mess in his wake, that childhood moniker appeared justified. He switched from "Bhondul" to "Cow Doctor" when he graduated from Bengal Veterinary College in the 1950's and worked as a government veterinarian (one can only assume with cows, based on the nickname) in a small Indian village. Delivering calves and regularly sticking his arms elbow-deep into large animals made "Cow Doctor" yearn for more, thus he leapt at the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacology at the Ohio State University in 1960. If he was ever called any nicknames as a grad student grunt, he never shared it with family.

Money was tight as a graduate student, so his return visits to India were few and far between. An unassuming family visit in 1966 led him to pick up another name when he returned to the US a surprised, newly-minted husband. He was now "Yogo," a name which stayed with him for the entirety of his 56-year marriage. It literally meant "Hey You" and was what his wife Minati chose to call him since wives from his generation traditionally did not use their husbands' first names, chiefly as a sign of respect. This led to occasional confusion when strangers would overhear Minati call him "Yogo," assume that was his name, and use it as well.

Amar added "Dad" to his collection of names while working on his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh when daughter Sarbori was born. He realized he needed a job to support his growing family, and eventually accepted a teaching position at Ohio Northern University's College of Pharmacy in Ada, Ohio. Due to the fact that his voluminous name did not trip readily off the tongue, his peers and students shortened "Bhattacharya" to just "B." Thus, "Dr. B" and "Doc B" were born. Amar added "Coach B" to his name roster in 1974 when he created ONU's first soccer club, which then became a varsity sport in 1975. He retired as coach in 1997 and was proud to watch the soccer program develop into an OAC powerhouse.

Doc/Coach B felt very strongly about the importance of an education, and instilled that belief into his students and athletes. His office door was always open and he routinely went out of his way to help anyone who crossed his threshold. He was a mentor to many of the students who passed through ONU, and would often invite them to his home when the university was on break and they were stuck on an empty campus. Minati and Sarbori became accustomed to Amar bringing people home with no warning, and became quite adept at adding a place at the table or handling last minute overnight guests. Unfortunately, Amar's sense of humor wasn't quite as keen as his pharmacological acumen, so his students and guests were often the unwitting recipients of horrible pharmacology related jokes- the most notorious one involved him asking people if they were a "Goodman or a Gilman." Thus, he earned the nickname "Ugh" from those who weren't familiar with the pharmacology textbook, and from his family who heard the joke 20,395 times over his lifetime.

Although there weren't many people of Indian origin in Ada in the 1970s and '80s, Amar kept in close contact with his friends both back in India and those who emigrated to the US. If a person looked Indian, there was a good chance he would walk up to them and ask what part of India they were from before befriending them. Due to his friendly nature, he was the contact person for what seemed to be any Bengali who lived within a several state radius. People were instructed to reach out to "Amarda" (the 'da' a sign of respect traditionally shown to elders in India) as a core member of the Indian/Bengali network. "Amarda" kept his Hindu traditions close to his heart, and was often asked by his fellow Bengalis to officiate many a wedding and house blessing over the years. He kept meticulous phone records and there was a good chance that your name was in his phone book whether you knew him for sixty minutes or sixty years.

He became "Shashur," or "father-in-law" when his daughter married Sambhu- and this union led to the first of two names that he prided himself on the most-"Dadu". Amar became "Dadu," the Bengali word for "maternal grandfather" with the birth of his grandson Shayon, and again when his granddaughter Shreena was born a few years later. The second was "Woof", which we believe meant "Feed Me, Human", and was bestowed upon him by Sancho, his beloved dog of 16 years. Amar loved his grandchildren and Sancho with all of his heart and much to his consternation would often intermix their names because they all started with the letter "S" to the point that his family was certain the dog (and sometimes the grandchildren) answered only to the portmanteau ShayonShreenaSarboriSambhuSancho.

Amar's journey ended on January 25, 2023. From "Bhondul" through "Doc/Coach B" through "Amarda," Amar's life spanned two continents, three careers, two phonebooks full of family and friendships, and two grandchildren as a net result. Farewell, "Yogo," "Dad," "Shashur," and "Dadu." You will be missed by many who used at least one of your many names.

A memorial service will be held this spring (date TBD) at Ohio Northern University.