Harpal Singh


Mrs. Harpal Kaur Singh, of Morgantown,  was called to be with God on January 18, 2019, at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, surrounded by her loving family who cared for her throughout her illness. Her family held her in prayer and love as her spirit  lifted  from the earthly body.
She was born on February 2, 1935, in Insein, Burma (now Myanmar). As an infant, she fled a cholera epidemic with her family to pre-partition India.  She spent her early childhood in Lahore (now in Pakistan).  During Partition in 1947, the family crossed the Pakistani-Indo border to live in Bhanohar (Punjab), India.  The story is that they used her father’s 1910, Austin to flee to India during the bloodshed of that time.
The daughter of Sardarni Dhantej Kaur and Sardar Lall Singh, MLA and Punjab Legislator, a published author and editor of the Ajit Newspaper, Harpal was one of six children.  She maintained a close lifelong relationship with her three sisters, two brothers, and many nieces and nephews.   She was a talented athlete, was in the National Cadet Corps of India, and was awarded the Best Cadet Cup by Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru in 1955.
At the age of 22 on March 1, 1957, she married Dr. Rabindar Nath Singh, son of Sardar Baboo Singh and Sardarni Bhagwan Kaur, of Punjab, India.   An adventurous new bride, she left her family and all things familiar, and emigrated 10,000 miles to the US with her husband to complete her college education at the University of Tennessee. In her family, education was the most important thing; Harpal came from a family of doctors, lawyers, and engineers.  Once in the US, she was scared and homesick, but she was completely determined to succeed.  She embraced life in her adopted hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., and made many friends. As graduate students, she and her husband scraped a life together in their new country, survived the death of their first child (with no family here to support them), developed optimism and a keen sense of adventure, and worked very hard.
Over the next nine  years, she and her husband earned five  degrees between the two of them from the University of Tennessee and from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI, now Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Va.    Harpal earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with a Major in Geography and a Minor in History in 1958, from the University of Tennessee, and a Master of Science in Geography with a Minor in Sociology in 1960, from the same institution.   Already ahead of her time, Harpal left Tennessee with her husband to pursue another Master of Science Degree in Management, Housing, and Family Development at VPI. She completed this degree in 1963, as her husband completed his Doctorate in Soil Chemistry and Clay Minerology.  In Blacksburg, she made lots of friends as a stunning young woman of 5’10’’ who graced campus and many college departments with her saris.
While living in Blacksburg, she welcomed a daughter in 1962, and another daughter in 1965.  Harpal settled with her family in Morgantown  in 1967, as her husband started the path to a tenured position with West Virginia University in Plant and Soil Sciences. The family welcomed a son in 1968.
Harpal joined West Virginia University in 1970, and worked for 27 years in the Nutrition and Dietetics department of West Virginia University Hospital (food services management).  She enjoyed her colleagues and loved food. She retired in 1997, after a distinguished career.  As a woman who loved to entertain, she invited many people to her dinner table. She was the light of her family and she had a special grace, charm, and sense of humor that never left her.  She enjoyed exercising, healthy cooking, world travel, and spending time with her family.   She took great pleasure in spending time with her beloved grandchildren, and leaves a special legacy of love, selflessness, and perseverance to all who knew her. She will be remembered by her family for her wisdom, compassion, gentleness, and liveliness. She had a great ability to enjoy herself and create joy around her.  Her children and her husband became her main caregivers in her last year of life, and she reaped the rewards of the love she had shared with her family.
She is survived by her spouse of almost 62 years, Dr. Rabindar Nath Singh, Professor Emeritus of Plant & Soil Sciences, Morgantown. She is also survived by her son, Mr. Satwindar Singh, of Morgantown and by two daughters, Ms. Sukhwindar Singh (Donald Schwartz) of State College, Pa. and Dr. Amrit Singh (Dr. John Michon), of South Barrington, Ill.  She remains in the hearts of her grandchildren, Eden Rose Singh, of State College, Pa.,   Simran and Rajan Michon, of South Barrington, Ill., and  Leah and Ethan Schwartz, of Lock Haven, Pa.  An extended family of nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews in India and in the US remember her joyfully, as do many dear friends and family in both countries.
She was preceded in death by her parents and by infant son,  Rajan Pal Singh; as well as by siblings, Dr. Avninder Kaur Grewal, Dr. Prithpal Singh, Mrs. Satinder Prakash, and Mrs. Harinder Kaur Sekhon.   Also preceding her were nephews, Mr. Hari  Prakash Singh and Mr. Surinder Singh.
The family would like to thank Ms. Jessica Darlington, of Rowlesburg,  for the care and love she provided to Harpal throughout the last months of her life. Jessica was crucial to Harpal’s well-being, and became a part of our family. We would like to thank Visiting Angels Agency, of Wheeling,   Amedysis Hospice and Home Health Care, of  Morgantown,  and the wonderful nurses, clinical assistants, and staff of WVU Medicine/ J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Harpal had the great fortune of receiving  thoughtful  healthcare in many places in the US, as she spent time with family members over the past 27 years. She remained grateful for the skilled care of her cardiologists and cardiac surgeon at Duke University Medical Center, who took care of her in 1992. That was a turning point in her life, she made vigorous changes in her diet and exercise routine, and stuck with it the rest of her life. Her discipline in doing this was amazing to her family. She received excellent medical care from a network of doctors and nurses in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in 2017, and 2018, during her stay with her daughter, and she and her family remembers their care and compassion.
Finally, heartfelt thanks go to Dr. N. Shah, Dr. Z. Dimachkie, Dr. A. Shafiq, Dr. S. Valavoor, Nurse-Practioner Amanda Tennant, Dr. F.  Bukeirat,  Dr. C. Grey,  Dr. S.  Akbar, and Dr. S. Pedraza, all of Morgantown, who worked very hard to care for Harpal and to give her time with her family.
Special friends who became part of her family, and were loved by her dearly, include Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Nicklowe and their sons, Mark and Jeff, Joe and Tracy Crites, Ms. Jessica Darlington, Dr. Hussein and Farida Ghazi, Dr. Devinder and Saroj Bhumbla, and Dr. Robert and Becky Keefer.
Long after retirement, she remembered her coworkers who made her job so special to her. She also enjoyed her exercise friends in Morgantown.   She had the special knack of being open and gregarious, and in this way was able to create connections with people wherever she went.
Services are to be held  at Fred L. Jenkins Funeral Home at 10 South High Street, Morgantown, from 10 a.m. –  noon on Saturday, Jan. 26,  followed by  a traditional Sikh religious service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to your local fire or police department, to the Morgantown/Cheat Lake Public Library (where she enjoyed special times with her children and then with her grandchildren), or to any charity of your choice.