Dr. Thejappa Golla, 72, -- a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, colleague, and friend -- passed away after a valiant 3-year battle with cancer on June 15th, 2023.
Thejappa was born on July 1, 1951, to Sanjeevappa and Kamakshamma in Vangalapalli, India. He was the eldest son, with five younger siblings. In Vangalapalli, he grew up in a poor agricultural household. Though it was the expectation that he would remain in Vangalapalli to help in the farming fields, Thejappa's brilliance and perseverance led him on another path of high academic achievement. Coming from a remote village with little resources, he completed his high school from Pariga with 1st rank. After high school, he went on to study math and physics in Tumukur and Bangalore to achieve his bachelor’s degree.
Thejappa became a trailblazer and set a new path for himself and for thousands of future Indian students to come. On his own merit, he pursued his M.S. at the University of Moscow in Russia, as part of a cohort sent by the Indian government. Overcoming the cultural and language barriers, he excelled academically and grew a fondness for the many cultures and people in the world. He returned to India and went on to receive his PhD at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore. In 1989, he came to the University of Maryland, College Park and pursued his research in solar astrophysics at NASA until the end of his life, proudly publishing many important findings in various prestigious scientific journals.
Thejappa and his dear wife Shailaja were happily married for over 40 years, and went on to have three children, Ujjwal, Vikram, and Vijay. In 1994, Thejappa and his family suffered an immense and tragic loss from the untimely passing of his brilliant and beloved son, Vikram, changing the course of their lives.
In his life, Thejappa had many hobbies and interests. He was very free-spirited and friendly, enjoying cooking, grilling outside, and spending time with his family and friends. His laugh was contagious and was loved by everyone who had the chance to interact with him. He travelled the world, meeting new people and sharing his work with the larger scientific community.
Thejappa loved tennis, swimming, music, and the arts, which he fondly introduced to all his children, in addition to diligently teaching them math and science. He loved to play (and beat) his children in chess and spend time with his grandson, Ajay, who brought a new joy to his life until the end.
One of Thejappa’s biggest passions was giving back to his village and community. Thejappa established a student scholarship and various free medical camps servicing Vangalapalli, and the surrounding villages.
Thejappa is survived by his wife Shailaja, his sons Ujjwal and Vijay, his daughter-in-law Nitya and his grandson Ajay.
He will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Services will be held at Beall Funeral Home, 6512 Crain Hwy, Bowie, MD 20715, on Thursday June 22, 2023, from 11am to 1pm.