Ranan Banerji, professor, Hindu priest, Quaker
Ranan B. Banerji retired in 1992 as a professor of math and computer science at St. Joseph's University. But besides his classroom work, he was both a Hindu priest and a member of Quaker meetings in Abington and then in Haddonfield.
Ranan B. Banerji retired in 1992 as a professor of math and computer science at St. Joseph's University.
But besides his classroom work, he was both a Hindu priest and a member of Quaker meetings in Abington and then in Haddonfield.
"He loved Quakerism," a daughter, Nita Spielberg, said. The rituals "felt very close to what he had studied for meditation" as a Hindu.
After he had moved to Haddon Township in the late 1990s and had become a member of Haddonfield Friends Meeting, "people from the meeting would come to meditate with him twice a month," she said.
On Friday, Dec. 9, Dr. Banerji, 88, of Haddon Township, died of emphysema at his home.
Hinduism, his daughter said, "is a very household religion," so instead of being associated with a temple, "he would perform weddings, funerals," at homes.
Born in Kolkata, Dr. Banerji earned his undergraduate degree in physics at Patna University in Bihar, India, in 1947, Spielberg said.
Responding to a request from Pennsylvania State University, in 1953 he arrived in the United States and became an associate professor in math and physics there.
Married at State College, Pa., in 1954, he and his wife, Lekha, who earned a master's in education there, then moved to the University of Calcutta, where he earned his doctorate in physics in 1956.
Dr. Banerji then returned to the U.S., became a professor of math and computer science at what is now Case Western Reserve University in 1958, and after a year's sabbatical at the University of New Brunswick, he worked at Case until he joined Temple University as a professor of math and computer science in 1977.
Agnes Rash, who was chair of the math and computer science department at St. Joseph's in the 1980s, said, "We heard he might be interested in making a change" to a smaller school.
After he had accepted her invitation and had become a professor of math and computer science at St. Joseph's, "he just embraced everyone in the department."
"He had so many ideas he was willing to share," she said. "It was just wonderful for us."
Jonathan Hodgson, who retired four years ago as a professor of math and computer science at St. Joseph's, said that at scholarly lectures, Dr. Banerji "would be the first to offer a question."
Hodgson recalled that for some time, "we lunched at his house or my house. It was like being an undergraduate, trying to solve the problems of the world."
During his career, Dr. Banerji spent summers as a visiting professor at Calcutta, the University of Paris, the University of Vienna, Vienna University of Technology, and the Czech Technical University in Prague.
After he retired, he wrote Society, Scientists and the Spirit. It was published in 2006 by AuthorHouse.
He wrote and edited five books about artificial intelligence, his daughter said.
Besides his wife, and daughter, he is survived by daughter Sheila and five grandchildren.
A visitation was set from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Jackson Funeral Home, 308 Haddon Ave., Haddon Township, before an 11 a.m. memorial service there.
Donations may be sent to Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice, Suite 300, 5 Eves Dr., Marlton, N.J., 08053.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.jacksonfh.net.