Kumari  Gurujal
On March 13, 2020 at approximately 2:00 a.m., Suryaprabha Kumari Gurujal passed away in her sleep. She will be missed by everyone she encountered in her brief time on this earth.
As she was known by all, Kumari (Koduru) Gurujal was born July 2, 1942 in Vishakputnum, India. Kumari was an above average student, and she was also known for her ability to run short and long distances. Kumari was the youngest of three, having two older brothers that she competed with and often beat with her father's encouragement. It doesn't need to be said that Kumari was her father's favorite. While they were very poor, her mother and father filled their house with love. It was uncommon for a father to take a daughter on business trips, but Kumari was inquisitive and spirited and her father was encouraging and rebellious. His belief was that women should be educated and independent and that was how Kumari was raised. It is because of her father that Kumari was progressive in her thoughts about educating women around the globe. She was generous to several charities that built schools for women in India and Africa. She paid for desks, school supplies, and the actual education for relatives and strangers because she believed women deserve an opportunity to excel independent of marriage. She was surrounded by illiterate women, but because of her father, she grew up believing that all was possible and within your reach.
Kumari was wed at the age of nineteen in an arranged marriage to PurshothamDas Gurujal, 10 years her senior, in April of 1961. Although they met the day before for the first time, they were married for 53 years until his passing on September 9, 2014. In that time, Kumari gave birth to two boys, Harsha (married to Susie) Gurujal, September 27, 1962, born in Visak, India and Ravi Gurujal, September 30, 1967, born in Flint, Michigan. The Gurujal family lived in Jacksonville, Florida, Flint, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, Toronto, Canada, Beckley, West Virginia and Carbondale, Illinois before settling in Shelbyville, Illinois in May of 1974. It was in Shelbyville that the Gurujals bought a home, created a life, raised their children, and settled in for their golden years. Kumari felt that the community of Shelbyville was her home. She could be seen and talked to in Johnston's IGA, the post office, the halls of Shelbyville Memorial Hospital or Shelby County State Bank but mostly in Dr. Das Gurujal's office. She was ready with a smile, a handshake, and a kind word for anyone who she came into contact with. She knew no stranger. She picked up hitchhikers and gave money through odd jobs to people who wanted a lift up. Everything she did, she did not because of the poverty she came from but the encouragement she received as her father's child.
Upon Dr. Das's passing, she packed up her belongings and moved to Urbana, Illinois with a dream to start a new chapter of traveling and reveling in her grandchildren's lives. She watched her grandson, Caleb Gurujal, son of Harsha and Susie Gurujal, graduate from the Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland with a law degree. She got the most pleasure from watching Robyn Gurujal, 15, and Rosemary Gurujal, 8, daughters to Ravi (ex-wife Gretchen) Gurujal, excel in everything life could throw at them. Kumari greatly enjoyed the extended family that she received from Susie Gurujal. Her children, Joshua Ryan (spouse Amanda) Osterbur, Megan Theresa Cline (spouse Gary) and Megan's daughter, Charlotte Anne Cline, 3, and Colin Daniel (spouse Katie) Osterbur and their children, Emma Elizabeth, 13, and Sophia Grace Osterbur, 10, ensured that every family gathering was a joyous occasion where love knew no boundaries. Food overflowed from every table and song filled the air. Even though she may have been in a wheelchair, Kumari would still dance with whomever, her arms waving in victory to every beat. No event was complete until Kumari gathered her doggie bag of food for her German shepherd, Charlie. Each great-grandchild, along with her grandchildren, Caleb, Robin, and Rosemary, always received a hug, a kiss, and a word of encouragement before Grandma Kumari would leave their side.
In February 2019, after several falls with sustained injuries, Kumari and Ravi went to the Mayo Clinic where they received the first diagnosis of ALS with a one to two year life expectancy. In April of 2019, Kumari received a second opinion at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, the opinion being the same, ALS with a one to two year life expectancy.
After the second opinion, she Initially became depressed and withdrawn. It didn't take her to long to burst out of her funk. She decided to celebrate her 77th birthday on July 6, 2019 with the Brat Pack in attendance. Kumari then announced she wanted to take her only grandson, Caleb, to see the TAJ MAHAL in Agra, India and the GREAT WALL in China. The trip was beyond words and the experience forged an unbreakable bond between the two. Kumari was exhausted upon her return but smiling because of her accomplishment of having gone half-way around the world defeating the hindrances of ALS.
On Monday, March 9, 2020, she made her last trip to Dayton, Ohio to see her second born. On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, she enjoyed a movie and a conversation with Ravi before her caretaker helped her to bed. Kumari never regained consciousness and she peacefully died in the arms of her children early Friday morning.
A visitation with the family to celebrate her life will be held at the Howe and Yockey Funeral Home, 415 North Broadway Street, Shelbyville, Illinois 62565 on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 from 5pm to 8pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make donations to the ALS Foundation of Chicago with the proceeds to benefit the families of ALS in Central Illinois. Also welcome are donations to careindia.org to educate girls in rural India or K.I.N.D. through UnicefUSA to build desks for students in Africa. If none of those are options, the family asks that you offer a hand to someone in need in your own way just as Kumari would have done.
Send condolences at www.howeandyockey.com
Published on March 16, 2020


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Showing 10 of 5 posts

Tis (Gonzales) Yap
Apr 06, 2020
I first met Kumari when I had to bring something to their medical office one afternoon. She had such a welcoming smile and we ended up having a long friendly chat. It was the start of a friendship that transcended life changes and transcontinental moves. She was a very wise, loving person who knew that life may be quite challenging especially for girls and women and tried to be an encouragement to others wherever she was. Condolences to Harsha, Ravi and their families.
Dr. Jim and Carol McAlister
Mar 30, 2020
Moving from Canada to Shelbyville was an adjustment but Kumari made that transition easier with her welcoming smile and warm hospitality. We fondly remember her delicious meals and conversation between Das and herself. We hold many fond memories. Our deepest condolences to the family.
Diane (Largent)
Mar 23, 2020
So sorry to hear. What a sweet and lovely lady. She will be sorely missed.
Joanne and Del Holman
Mar 17, 2020
We extend our deepest sympathy to the family. Our daughter passed away in 2017 from this terrible disease. We attended the Champaign Support group until we moved to Lebanon, IL We continue to support the ALS Walk each year.
Wanda Stewardson
Mar 16, 2020
Dear family and friends,

I will never forget the first meeting I had with Kumari. She and her husband had just moved into Shelbyville and he had his heart attack. I sat with her for days and nights at the Shelbyville Hospital until he was out of harms way. My mother, Vera Stewardson wanted to stay with her, but I would not let her due to my father just passing of a heart attack and am thought it would bring back sad memories for her. Kumari did not know me at all, but sitting there with her, trying to comfort her and keep her calm was so easy. She was such a lovely person with so much love and caring for others. I got to know her that week...until her family could be there with her.
... We would walk over to Hardees and eat our meals and talk about her home, her family and I would share the same. We became very close and then later in life we became neighbors in Hickory Point Subdivision. I would see her at Dr. Ben and Dr. Virginia’s home or around Shelbyville. We would hug and catch up always. I considered her very very special person in my life. Warm hugs and prayers to all family and friends. She will be greatly missed. Love Wanda♥️🙏🏻Read more