On the morning of Feb. 9, 2008, in her home, and surrounded by family, Shama Anna John passed away. She is remembered for her grace and humility, and for her subtle, refined, and unyielding compassion for others.
Born in Sri Lanka to Varkey and Anna Mathai on Sept. 9, 1953, Shama spent her childhood years climbing trees, fishing and swimming in the streams of Elehara. In 1974, she earned a Bachelors Degree in chemistry from Women’s Christian College in Madras, India. On Nov. 25, 1976, the same year she earned a Masters Degree in biochemistry from Coimbatore University, she married Madhu Joseph John in Kerala. Afterwards they moved to New York City, where their first daughter, Nithya Rachel, was born.
They ultimately settled in Fresno’s San Joaquin Valley in 1980, where their second daughter, Neha Anna, was born. While living in Fresno, Shama earned a Masters Degree in molecular biology from Fresno State and did research for the US Department of Agriculture.
She had a passion for food, nature, yoga, travel, and painting, but most of all loved spending time with her family and friends all over the world. Her most enduring legacy resides in her two daughters and in the countless lives indelibly touched by her singular kindness.
Diagnosed with Uterine Leiomyosarcoma in July, 2003, Shama fought for nearly 5 years, never faltering in her determination to live, and continually inspiring her loved ones with her tremendous spirit. It was her hope that a cure would be found for this illness and that her life and memory would in some way contribute to that effort. She is survived by her husband Madhu, daughters Nithya and Neha, and sons-in-law Brady and Cheyenne, as well as her sister Mary, brothers George, Cyril, and Cecil, sisters-in-law Ramani, Rohini, and Jennifer, and a vast network of relatives and friends – all of whom will miss her deeply.
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