Kantibhai & Kantaben Patel
KANTABEN PATEL (1931-1981) KANKTIBHAI PATEL (1927-1983)
Both Kantibhai and Kantaben Patel were born in Gujarat, India - Kantibhai in Sanjaya in 1927,
Kantaben in Palaj in 1931.
They married in 1950. They were subsequently blessed with two sons, Vijaykumar (1952) and
Shashikant (1956) who were both born in Gujarat, and a daughter Rashmika (1962) born in
Kantibhai earned degrees at both the Calcutta University (1952) and the Commercial University of
Dehli, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Commerce, with Honors (1954).
In the mid 50's Kantibhai went to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in search of a better life for his young
family. He accepted a position with Brooke Bond Tea, and settled in Kenya where the family joined
him in 1958. They made a life in Kenya until 1970, when political situations in Kenya and neighboring
Uganda convinced them to emigrate.
In 1970 Kantibhai emigrated to Newark, New Jersey and the family stayed behind in Kenya. The
following year Vijay joined his father, and Kantaben and the two younger children went to Gujarat. A
year later, 1972, the family reunited in the USA.
Kantibhai worked for First National City Bank (now CitiBank) as an accountant, a position he would
hold the rest of his life. Kantaben worked in a factory, but her real love was her family and her
distinctive cooking (which has been fondly remembered, but unfortunately never duplicated).
Both became naturalized US Citizens - Kantibhai in March 1978, Kantaben in September.
Kantibhai (often called "Bapuji", which translates as "Great Father" and is given to highly respected
elders) and Kantaben sacrified greatly, devoting their time, energy and assets to bringing their
family, and extended family, to America for what they believed would be a better life. They actually
succeeded in bringing themselves, their 3 children, and 12 other family members to the United
Their courage and commitment had a profound impact on the family and its’ future. Today there are
dozens of descendants of theirs, and the 15 family members they brought, living in the US.
|The Patels, in Mombasa, circa 1967