A beloved family man and longtime and well respected employee and then superintendent of Burlington DPW whose life was a fascinating and sometimes very difficult journey passed away this week.
Syamalendu Narayan Chaudhuri passed away on August 7th, 2022, after a long illness at the age of 79 years old, his obituary from Sullivan Funeral Home states. He was one of 11 children born to Lilabati (Roy) and Parbati Narayan Chaudhuri. Syamal was born under British rule in Sirajgunge, undivided India and like many Hindus uprooted to Kolkata with his family during the Partition. He often talked about losing his home as a child and watching his once wealthy family start over with nothing. His family went on to do well and he was always proud of them. For the rest of his life, he spent money as if it were water, never on himself, but on his loved ones. Money meant nothing to him. His loved ones meant everything to him.
As a teenager the neighborhood children would love it when he would take them to school because he would buy them candy. This type of generosity was lavished on his friends, family, and co-workers, or anyone who needed it when he happened to have money in his pocket.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Jadavpur University in Kolkata and went on to earn a master’s in environmental engineering at Northeastern University in Boston.
Syamal was also a naturally gifted politician. At a very young age he won an elected post in Kolkata. Politics were dangerous in this nascent period of post Partition India. Syamal got on the wrong side of the ruling communist party in West Bengal. His cousin was killed for political reasons. Syamal was working at Metcalf and Eddy in Kolkata at the time. Fearing for his welfare his mother urged him to go to America when a job opened up in their American branch.
Syamal met the love of his life in March of 1971 while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. He married Patricia Backus in 1974, when she was 19 and he was 31 years old. Syamal’s father wanted him to be a doctor which he was not inclined to do. So, he did the next best thing and encouraged Patricia to become one. He supported her and became the primary caretaker for their children while she studied.
Syamal and Patricia had two children, Ananda and Anamika. He was a loving father who would do anything for his children. When money was tight, he got a second job waking up at 4 a.m. to deliver newspapers.
Syamal became town engineer of Burlington in May of 1984 and then went on to become DPW superintendent of Burlington in October of 1986 until his retirement in December of 2006. He greatly enjoyed his job as DPW superintendent and became close friends with his co-workers. When it snowed, he loved to put on a baseball cap and stay out late with the guys plowing to give them moral support. As the work progressed, he would turn the cap to mark their progression: sideways to the right for 1/4 done, backwards for halfway done, sideways to the left for 3/4 done, and forward when finished. After he retired, he and his wife lived together in Chester, NH.