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Published: Thursday, 6/24/2010

1990s immigrant was jurist in India

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Suresh A. Shah, who was a high court justice in the state of Gujarat, India, before immigrating to the United States in the early 1990s to live with his children, including a daughter in Toledo, died of leukemia Monday at Flower Hospital. He was 85.

Mr. Shah, who practiced law for more than 30 years before he was appointed to the state supreme court, and his wife of 59 years, Dr. Hansa Shah, split their time living with their three sons and daughter. Mrs. Shah died in Toledo on May 18, which led to a setback in her husband's health, said son Saumil Shah.

Mr. Shah was offered the appointment to the state supreme court in 1982 while he was in the United States visiting his children, including daughter Shilpa Shah, who lives in Toledo.

In an interview with The Blade during his visit here in August, 1982, he said he had turned down a similar invitation some years prior. He accepted the second offer, telling The Blade, "It is a duty."

During his 1982 visit, Mr. Shah visited Lucas County Common Pleas courts and met with several judges to compare notes on justice in the two countries.

Shilpa Shah said her father was respected for his honesty and fairness, which led to his appointment as the first chairman of his country's fledgling consumer rights commission following retirement from the high court bench.

Mr. Shah was born on Dec. 3, 1924, in Dhrangadhra, India. He received his law degree from Gujarat Law College in the city of Ahmedabad. He and Hansa Shah were married in 1951. Shilpa Shah said her father was active in the Quit India Movement, a civil disobedience group founded in 1942 that fought for independence from Great Britain. He became a member of the Congress Party, which also advocated independence, Mrs. Shah said.

"At that time, any young man was basically involved in the freedom movement," she said.

Mr. Shah held the United States in high regard and sent his sons here to earn advanced degrees in engineering, son Saurin Shah said. Suresh Shah had wanted to become an engineer, but because his father was a lawyer, it was expected that his only son would follow his career. Nevertheless, Mr. Shah was fascinated with technology and eagerly awaited each new advance in laptops, Saurin Shah said.

Suresh Shah moved to the United States after retiring from the consumer commission and became a naturalized citizen. Mr. Shah used his legal background to assist other immigrants, especially those seeking citizenship, Saurin Shah said.

In California, where he lived at times, he assisted senior citizens groups. Earlier this year, when his wife's health began to fail, the couple returned to Toledo to live with their daughter.

"He didn't have a house of his own," Saurin Shah said.

His sons called their father strong-willed and tenacious, as evidenced by his desire to undergo chemotherapy when he was 80, an age that many doctors decline to provide the cancer treatment.

"My body is like a guinea pig. Someday people will benefit from this research," son Saumil Shah recalled his father telling the doctor.

Suresh Shah is survived by sons Saurabh Shah, Saumil Shah, and Saurin Shah, daughter Shilpa Shah, and eight grandchildren.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Dowling Funeral Home in Sylvania Township. The family suggests memorials to the Cherry Street Mission.

Contact: Jim Sielicki at:

jsielicki@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078



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